SHARE Guidelines Northern Ireland

Date published: 10 January 2024

The Northern Ireland Protect Life 2 Strategy (2019) has a particular focus on those who have been bereaved by suicide.


Families have described their distress and  sense of isolation at having responsibility for looking after a suicidal relative but lacking the skills and knowledge to do so effectively. A recurrent concern raised by families is their perception that staff exclude them from the mental healthcare of their relative by excessive adherence to patient confidentiality.

Best practice in mental health care is for families and carers to have as much involvement as possible in the assessment process, including the opportunity to express their views on potential risk. Care plans and Safety Plans should also be collaboratively developed where possible.

There are also clearly times in dealing with a person at risk of suicide when practitioners will need to consider informing the family and friends about aspects of risk and may need to create a channel of communication for both giving and receiving information that will help keep the person safe.

Learning from serious adverse incident reviews commonly report a failure to share information as a recurrent theme in deaths by suicide.

Information sharing and suicide prevention: Consensus Statement 2021

To help address such concerns, a Consensus Statement for information sharing and suicide prevention was developed and published in 2014. The statement was subsequently updated and republished in 2021, to reflect the current legal position including the implementation of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR).

This Consensus Statement was produced involving:

  • Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Royal College of General Practitioners
  • Royal College of Nursing
  • The Royal College of Midwives
  • Institute of Health Visiting
  • Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS)
  • The British Association of Social Workers
  • The British Psychological Society
  • Mental Health Network NHS Confederation

The 2021 Consensus Statement can be accessed here - Information sharing and suicide prevention: consensus statement - GOV.UK (


SHARE Guidelines – Northern Ireland

The SHARE guidelines for Northern Ireland were developed 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”. The guidelines aim to support mental health and social care staff in putting the Consensus Statement into action and to advise more broadly on how to engage with patients when discussing issues of confidentiality and consent to share information.

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 aim 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 and download here ; doh-share-guide-ni.pdf (

SHARE Guidelines - On Line Training Programme

To help support staff in the use of the SHARE guidelines an online training programme has been developed by Northern Ireland’s Clinical Education Council  in partnership with the Department of Health (N.I.).  This programme takes approximately 45-60 minutes to complete.

The SHARE Guidelines and training are for staff working in mental health services across all sectors and there are two links to the training one for HSC staff and one for Non HSC staff:

Link for HSC staff:

Link for NON HSC staff:

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