Coordinated suicide prevention – the Public Health Agency’s Role
Many authorities and other stakeholders on different levels of society can contribute to suicide preventive work. Since 2015, the Public Health Agency of Sweden has been commissioned by the government to coordinate prevention at a national level.
Our role is to develop coordination and monitoring of suicide and suicide preventive work, as well as to develop and disseminate knowledge support to national, regional and local actors working within the mental health and suicide prevention field. Sweden's suicide prevention efforts are guided by a National Action Programme for Suicide Prevention which was ratified by the Swedish parliament in 2008.
The Agency's coordination is carried out through a national collaboration group of authorities and a national interest group with researchers and representatives of the non-profit sector (NGO's). The aim of national coordination is to:
- bring together and develop suicide preventive work,
- identify areas for collaboration and create synergies between national stakeholders,
- highlight the need for knowledge, and
- prevent duplication of efforts.
Monitoring and knowledge support
We monitor the development of suicide and suicide preventive work. This is done by analysing and presenting statistics e.g. on trends in suicide rates and by mapping suicide preventive measures.
We also develop and disseminate knowledge about suicide and suicide prevention. This may include collaborations with researchers in specific projects, or summarizing other research and presenting it in a way that is adapted to different target groups, such as in factsheets, and spreading it through different channels e.g. on the web, in social media, at conferences and seminars. Our work with knowledge support focuses on population-based suicide prevention, i.e. measures mainly carried out outside the health care sector.
In our work, we collaborate closely with other authorities, such as The National Board of Health and Welfare, who is responsible for producing national standards and guidelines within the fields of social services, health and medical services, and patient safety. They also maintain national health data registers and official statistics such as The Swedish Cause of Death Register, where all suicides in Sweden are registered, and is updated annually. Other agencies included in our collaboration are the National Transport Administration, the Swedish Medical Products Agency, The Swedish Prison and Probation Service, The Swedish Migration Agency, and the Police. We also work with the National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention (NASP) at Karolinska Institutet.
- The National Board of Health and Welfare
- The National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention (NASP)
A diagram showing the different sectors involved in suicide preventive work and the structure of national coordination.
Each agency and stakeholder involved in suicide preventive work is responsible for developing measures within its respective sector. Our focus is on developing knowledge in the field of public health and providing a platform for knowledge transfer and collaboration between the different stakeholders.
Grants to support to civil society
The work that non-profit organizations do to prevent suicide is very important. Therefore, the Public Health Agency has been assigned by the government to allocate state grants to NGO's within the field of mental health and suicide prevention. With these funds organisations are supported in their efforts to develop and spread knowledge, for example, through education, information efforts or social support.
In 2020, the Government commissioned to the National Board of Health and Welfare and the Swedish Public Health Agency, in close cooperation with several other authorities, to suggest a coming national strategy in the field of mental health and suicide prevention.
All authorities involved have made an individual analysis of the current situation and of the long-term needs within their own area of mental health and suicide prevention.
Within the respective areas of activity, the authorities have identified areas that should be prioritized in a national strategy, analyzed target groups that are affected by the assignment and, where appropriate, have pointed out development needs within their own area of activity. Finally, the authorities will also propose ways in which to support the implementation and follow-up of the upcoming strategy.
A proposal for a new strategy, with goals and indicators for follow-up, will be presented to the Government at the latest on September 1, 2023.
Do you or someone you know need help?
If you or someone you know is in acute need of psychiatric help, dial the SOS emergency number in Sweden, 112. In a non-emergency situation, you can call Sweden's national health hotline 1177 for information about illnesses and about where to find your nearest healthcare centre. For more information visit 1177.se.
There is also a suicide prevention hotline providing support for those who have suicidal thoughts or have a loved one with such thoughts. You reach them at 90101 or chat or email.