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Co-produced with the Greater Manchester Older People’s Network, the campaign aims to raise awareness of self-harm in older people and increased risks of suicide and to highlight support available.

The Greater Manchester Suicide Prevention Programme’s Don’t Brush It Under the Carpet campaign has been shortlisted for the University of Manchester’s Making a Difference Awards for Social Responsibility. These awards recognise the impact their staff, students, alumni and external partners are having on the social wellbeing of communities and wider society. They offer the opportunity to share best practice about social responsibility initiatives and encourage others to get involved.

Older people who self-harm are at 67 times greater risk of suicide than the general older population and three times greater than the relative risk of suicide among younger people who self-harm (The University of Manchester, 2012). There’s an elevated risk of suicide in older people who self-harm yet older people do not always get access to specialist care:

  • Only 12% of over 65s who self-harm are referred to mental health services within 12 months of their initial self-harm episode.
  • Referrals are a third less likely for older people in the most deprived areas even though the incidence of self-harm is higher in these areas.
  • One in seven older people self-harmed again within a year of the initial episode (Morgan et al., 2018)

These shocking statistics debunk any myths that self-harm is an issue only for young people. We know that recovery statistics are positive for older people. Poor mental wellbeing is not an inevitable part of ageing, and this campaign is integral in raising societal awareness of this and encouraging older people to seek help and not ‘brush it under the carpet’. Polly Kaiser, Greater Manchester Older Peoples Mental Health Lead said: “

The campaign also aims to raise awareness of the issue of self-harm and older people, amongst carers, family members and health professionals to enable them to better support residents who may be struggling.

The campaign was funded by the NHS GM Integrated Care Partnership and builds on their existing Shining A Light on Suicide Campaign. It was created by a working group made up of representatives from the Shining a Light on Suicide Campaign, Greater Manchester Older People’s Network, Greater Manchester Ageing Hub, health professionals, academics and a focus group of older residents. The campaign’s concept is themed around common phrases and sayings that residents would be familiar with and relate to including ‘Don’t Brush It Under the Carpet’ and a problem shared is a problem halved.

This new campaign is really important because it is helping to break the taboo around older people’s mental wellbeing and encouraging them to seek support. The campaign’s strength has been the involvement of older people working on equal terms with professionals from the very beginning. Their voices have been crucial in shaping the direction of the campaign and raising awareness of self-harm and older people. Gillian Stainthorpe, Greater Manchester Older Peoples Network Steering Group Member

The Awards ceremony will take place in the Whitworth Hall on Thursday 11 May 2023. The event will be hosted by the President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell and Chancellor, Nazir Afzal, will present the winners and highly commended with the awards. The ceremony will also be live-streamed.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or concerned for someone who is find support information at www.shiningalightonsuicide.org.uk





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