Protect Life 2 - Suicide Prevention Strategy

Date published: 10 September 2019

Last updated: 17 November 2023

Protect Life 2 is a long-term strategy for reducing suicides and the incidence of self-harm with action delivered across a range of Government departments, agencies, and sectors.  The Strategy has been extended until end 2027.  A Review focusing on the Strategy action plan will be undertaken during winter 2023/24.

It recognises that no single organisation or service is able to influence all the complex interacting factors that lead someone to harming themeselves or, ultimately, to taking their own life.


It stresses the importance of services, communities, families and society working together to help prevent suicides. In practice this means, for example: that community and voluntary organisations are supported to deliver suicide prevention services; that sports clubs and faith groups are trained in suicide awareness and intervention; that justice services develop and implement self-harm and suicide prevention action plans; that primary health care is skilled and proactive in identifying and intervening with patients showing signs of suicidal behaviour; that there is closer working with addiction services; that schools know how to respond when a pupil is in emotional distress; and that those delivering public services to potentially vulnerable people are trained in suicide awareness.

The strategy encompasses:

  • general population-based approaches designed to influence attitudes and behaviours such as help-seeking behaviour, restricting access to means of suicide, raising awareness and supporting responsible media reporting.
  • targeted intervention such as training for health and social care staff and people working in the community, self-harm referral from emergency departments, self harm case management, improving risk management within mental health services, screening in health and substance misuse services, and supporting recovery in those who have made suicide attempts.
  • crisis de-escalation and case management to prevent attempted suicide by people in mental health crisis and/or emotional or social crisis.
  • postvention support for those bereaved or otherwise affected by suicide, and improving data collection and analysis in relation to suicide in order to inform service improvement.

SHARE Guidelines Northern Ireland

As part of the actions included in the Protect Life 2 Strategy, under objective 5 - "To reduce the incidence of suicide amongst people under the care of mental health service”, guidance has been developed for healthcare staff in relation to consent, confidentiality and information sharing in mental healthcare and suicide prevention:

Seek consent to Share Information
Have regard to the law, rules and regulations
Always act in the patients’ best interest
Record all discussions and activities
Ensure service user confidentiality is respected

The SHARE guidelines Northern Ireland seek to:

  • increase staff confidence in gaining consent and sharing information to promote and improve safety in mental healthcare.
  • enhance a partnership approach between professionals, the individual at risk, agencies and carers involved.

The Share Guidelines Northern Ireland document is available to view together with other Protect Life 2 documents detailed below.



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