Council developing suicide prevention strategy after death of Dagenham woman

Karis Braithwaite took her own life in September 2018. Picture: Tim Deeming

Karis Braithwaite took her own life in September 2018. Picture: Tim Deeming - Credit: Archant

Barking and Dagenham Council is developing a suicide prevention culture following the death of a young woman.

A health and wellbeing board heard how the borough has compiled an online directory of support for people bereaved by suicide and will be reviewing the care of people who self-harm to prevent future deaths through suicide.

The report, discussed at a meeting on Tuesday, March 10, followed the death of Karis Brathwaite, from Dagenham, who took her own life in September 2018.

The 24-year-old died hours after she was released from Goodmayes Hospital following a previous suicide attempt.

Senior coroner Nadia Persaud wrote to North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT) in January after at least two deaths where 'important risk information' was not available to the mental health team.

The coroner criticised the way medical staff accepted a handover from police and paramedics, which resulted in them not taking Ms Brathwaite's suicide threat seriously enough.

Shared care coordinator for Barking and Dagenham public health, Jill Williams, said in her report: 'The circumstances of Karis' death prompted the coroner to issue a [PFD]. This was responded by NELFT who instigated a number of changes in relation to admission and assessment processes, an important review which aligns with the BHR strategy.

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'The death of Karis highlights the tragedy of suicide in relation to the loss of life and the devastating impact of suicide on families and friends of the deceased.'

Barking and Dagenham has the lowest rates of suicide in London at 5.1 deaths per 100,000 people.

Ms Williams' report added: 'Despite deprivation and the relatively high prevalence of mental health issues, Barking and Dagenham's suicide rate is low. [The borough] has a diverse population and different communities may have a stronger bias against suicide than others.

'However, suicide can and should be prevented. It does not exist in a vacuum, the prevention of suicide is linked to a wider agenda of promoting mental health and wellbeing for individuals, families and communities.

'The main priorities in relation to the strategy going forward locally is to develop a suicide prevention culture within the council, services and our partners and to consider how best to implement interventions at a place-based level to support prevention.'