Ministry of Social Affairs and Health finances the Current Care Guideline for suicide prevention
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (STM) has granted a separate appropriation of EUR 80,000 to the Finnish Medical Society Duodecim, to be used for drawing up a Current Care Guideline on suicide prevention for healthcare professionals. Creating a new guideline is always labour-intensive, and it is estimated that the work will take two years. The guideline may be completed in summer 2019, after which it would gradually be put into practice.
The Current Care Board decides on the drafting of new guidelines. The Board made the decision on a Current Care Guideline for suicide prevention earlier this autumn. Thanks to the Ministry’s financing for this project, the guideline work can be started without endangering any other guideline work conducted simultaneously.
“Although the trend is positive and Finnish suicide figures are falling, Finns still commit more suicides than people in the other Nordic countries. One in six Finns brood over suicide at some stage of their life. These are figures that need to be addressed. At the same time, it should be noted that a suicide or an attempted suicide is also a hard blow to family members,” says Annika Saarikko, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services.
The new guideline will harmonise suicide prevention practices
Uniform and effective care practices can prevent suicides, and they help in treating patients who have attempted suicide. Finnish doctors value Current Care Guidelines and say that they affect the decisions taken on care. The guidelines increase the equal treatment of patients and support the best outcome possible from the point of view of the patient’s state of health and functional capacity. The guideline will also help caregivers when they meet the family members of a person who has committed or attempted suicide.
A new suicide prevention programme for Finland
On 12 December, the Finnish Parliament decided to allocate an appropriation of EUR 300,000 for 2018 to launch a programme to prevent suicide. Finland’s current national suicide prevention strategy and action plan is completely outdated since it dates back to 1991. Demands for updating the action plan have been made for years. Thanks to the appropriation granted by Parliament, the revision work will now get off to a good start.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) are also setting up a network for coordinating suicide prevention. Its task is to improve the systematic planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of suicide prevention measures.
Suicide prevention as part of the Government’s key project
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health finances two ongoing projects focusing on suicide prevention. The projects are part of the Government’s key project to promote health and wellbeing.
The two-year project of the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Itsemurhien ehkäisy – koulutus terveydenhuollon ammattilaisille [Suicide prevention – training for healthcare professionals], focuses on strengthening the expertise of at least 800 doctors and public health nurses working in primary healthcare throughout the country. In the project, they are trained how to identify a person at risk of suicide, how to bring up the issue of self-destructive thoughts and how to refer a person at risk of suicide to the necessary care. The training events have been popular and have also been attended by social welfare professionals. As a result of the project, the faculties of medicine at the University of Tampere and the University of Oulu have adopted the training as part of the specialisation education of general medicine.
The Municipality of Utsjoki has launched the project Ensiapu itsemurhavaarassa olevalle - ELÄMÄ (First aid to a person at risk of suicide – LIFE), which is supported by a government grant. It strengthens the skills of professionals and community members to identify a suicide risk, to bring it up in discussion and to support a person at risk of suicide. The project is targeted at the region of northern Lapland and especially at the Sámi population. The training sessions will start next year.
Meri Larivaara, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 2951 63634
Riikka Pirkkalainen, Special Adviser to the Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, tel. +358 40 539 5090
- Current Care (Finnish Medical Society Duodecim)
- Suicide prevention (National Institute for Health and Welfare, THL)
- Health and wellbeing will be fostered and inequalities reduced (key project) (MSAH)
- Suicide (Finnish Association for Mental Health)