Suicide prevention: the role of the community pharmacy team

Written by | 12 Nov 2022 | 'In Discussion With'

Hayley Gorton is an experienced clinical pharmacist who has specialised in mental health. As a senior lecturer at the University of Huddersfield she leads a research team with a special interest in self-harm and suicide prevention. In this series of short videos, she describes her research findings and the ways in which community pharmacy teams can contribute to suicide prevention.

Worldwide there are more than 700 000 deaths by suicide every year and the World Health Organization (WHO) aims to reduce this by one third by 2030. Pharmacists and their teams represent a hitherto untapped resource in the multidisciplinary field of suicide prevention. All of the work that’s been done in relation to pharmacy teams and suicide prevention has been focused on community pharmacy. “What’s particularly important about primary care settings is that actually two-thirds to three-quarters of people who die by suicide are not under specialist mental health services, so that means they’re with us in primary care and we have opportunities to intervene”, says Dr Gorton.

Increasingly, community pharmacy teams are being recognised as having a part to play in having conversations with people about self-harm. Some of the work undertaken by Dr Gorton’s team has recently contributed to a new NICE guideline on self-harm.  It is important for pharmacy teams to be aware of the resources available, especially local resources such as Hub of Hope and to avoid the use of stigmatising language.

Antidepressants will be included in the New Medicine Service (NMS) from April 2023 onwards. (The New Medicine Service (NMS) is an Advanced Service in the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF in England). This will provide an opportunity for pharmacist to have in-depth discussions with people who have recently been prescribed anti-depressants.

There is now a worldwide network of pharmacists with an interest in suicide prevention. So far, most of the research has been done in high-income countries but more than three quarters of suicides in the world are in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and research is now planned to address this gap.

Read and watch the full series on our website or on YouTube.

Dr Hayley Gorton MPharm, PhD, PGDip (ClinPharm), MRPharmS, FHEA, CF is a senior lecturer in pharmacy practice at the University of Huddersfield. She is also a co-chair of the Association for International Association of Suicide Prevention special interest group on suicide prevention in primary care. At the recent FIP Congress (Seville, 2022) Dr Gorton gave a presentation entitled, Suicide prevention: Are pharmacy teams an overlooked and indispensable asset?

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