Suicide prevention guide for the municipalities

Suicide PillsPills.

Høie wants to prevent suicide with a guide for the municipalities

The Norwegian Directorate of Health, for the first time, publishes a guide to municipalities to prevent self-harm and suicide. The association LEVE (Live) asks for follow-up by the municipalities.


– The municipality plays a central role in the suicide prevention work. Many of those who commit suicide have been in contact with their general practitioner, or other part of the health service, in the year before they die, says Minister of Health and Human Services, Bent Høie.

He points out that the health services in the municipality therefore have a unique position to come in earlier with prevention, treatment and follow-up.

In the preventive material, the Directorate of Health writes that the municipalities should establish a plan or sub-plan for prevention, early identification and follow-up of self-harm and suicide attempts. The health authorities also recommend that all municipalities should have a contact person who will follow up on inquiries.

– The municipalities must ensure that employees have the necessary skills to identify and follow up people who need help, the Directorate writes.

– The municipalities have different resources, so this material will be of good help and can be used as a” work template”. The guide is intended as a tool for the municipalities who need to improve, says Høie to NTB.

When asked how the Directorate of Health will follow up the municipalities’ actual use of the guide, Høie answers that the material is only a meant as a recommendation, not a regulation.

Just as far without follow-up

Kristina Johnstad LEVE

Kristina Johnstad, Leader of Ung LEVE. Photo: LEVE

Kristina Johnstad, leader of Ung LEVE (Young Live) – the federation for those left behind, finds it positive that guidelines for the municipalities are put down in writing. She calls the measure a step in the right direction, but is critical of the fact that the municipalities will not be followed up.

– The municipalities should commit to the guide. Without follow-up, we are not progressing and it becomes difficult to know how this will work in practical terms, she believes.

In the last 10-15 years, the suicide rate has been relatively stable between 500 to 600 cases each year in Norway. The latest figures are from 2015, showing that the number of suicides was somewhat higher than in previous years. This year there were 590 cases in Norway, figures from the Cause of Death Register.

Contact persons are important

The chairman of Mental Health, Kristian Kise Haugland, points out that it is a major problem today that people who have attempted suicide are not being followed up.

– After a suicide attempt, one is taken care of by the specialized health service, who often do not know who to relinquish for further follow-up in the municipality. The appointment of contact persons in the municipalities will therefore be very positive in the preventive work, he says.

The member organization, which itself has given input to what the supervisor should contain, is pleased that the guide from the Directorate of Health is only a recommendation.

– I do not think the guide is too vague. When the state says that the municipalities should comply with the guidelines, it means that the municipalities should have good reason not to follow them. The municipalities can receive complaints if they do not follow the material, says Kise Haugland.

Important to talk about suicide

Earlier this year, there were several suicides and suicide attempts among young people in Lillehammer and Trondheim during a short period of time, reports VG. Kise Haugland points out that in spite of contagious effects, one should not be afraid to talk about suicide.

– It’s only the procedure you should be careful about mentioning, as it can create a contagious effect.

The guide comes two years too late

“The Action Plan for Prevention of Suicide and Self Injury 2014-2017” reported that the Directorate of Health would develop guidance materials for municipalities to prevent self-harm and suicide by 2015.

– The Directorate must answer the reason why the guide is delayed. However, it is important that the guide is coming now. There are still too many suicides in Norway, and many have challenges finding out in the municipal aid system, says Minister Bent Høie to NTB.

Facts about the guide to prevent self-harm and suicide

  • The Directorate of Health has made a guide to help the municipalities in preventing self-harm and suicide:
  • The municipality should establish plans to prevent self-harm and suicide attempts and early identification of people in danger.
  • It must be be made clear where the responsibility for patient follow-up lays.
  • The municipality should ensure that all inquiries are coordinated and followed up, it is recommended that the municipality appoint a contact person.
  • Healthcare professionals must facilitate the inclusion of parents and other relatives in the follow-up.
  • The municipality should provide good information on local services on its websites (eg contact data, opening hours, what they can provide of services, etc.)
  • The service offer should have high availability and a low threshold.
  • People who have been hospitalized after suicide attempts have a markedly increased risk of new suicide attempts, especially the first time after being released. Comprehensive follow-up requires good cooperation internally in the municipality and between the municipality and the specialist health service. This is especially true when releasing back to society.
  • Suicidal persons and persons with suicidal behavior should be identified as early as possible. Getting in early gives the opportunity to take action before the problems develop and will increase the likelihood of getting better.


© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today