Engaging the public: reducing suicide risk

Posted on: 6 March 2024 by Helen Mulholland in March Posts 2024

NOW Festival logo

Helen Mulholland and Dr Leanne Burton are part of the ARISE research team, in the Department of Primary Care and Mental Health. Here they discuss how they attended NOW Festival, an event ran by Merseyside Youth Association, to engage with the public about their latest research project.


Local and national suicide prevention strategies highlight ‘safety planning’ as a key strategic priority and Children and Young People (CYP) as a priority risk group. A Suicide Safety Plan is a suicide prevention clinical intervention that seeks to reduce suicidal risk.

However, generic Suicide Safety Plans may not meet the needs of certain priority risk groups. It is important that we make Suicide Safety Plans as developmentally, culturally, ethnically, and gender appropriate as possible. To improve Suicide Safety Plans for priority risk groups of CYP, funding has been secured to co-design a Suicide Safety Plan mobile app, which we hope, will be inclusive and meet the needs of CYP.

Our project

The project is called ‘Widening Access to Suicide Safety Plans’ (WASSP). Working alongside Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and Citrus Suite, we have designed a prototype of a Suicide Safety Plan mobile app. The app is based on the traditional paper-based version of a Suicide Safety Plan.

We are looking to recruit 30 Children and Young People to review the app and give their feedback about the language used, colour scheme, fonts and icons, functionality and navigation. We are also keen for CYP to share their views about potential additional questions and/or sections that are appropriate for particular groups of individuals, but not currently included in the Suicide Safety Plan.

Volunteers will need to be:

  • aged between 11 and 25 years
  • live in Cheshire or Merseyside
  • have lived experience of self-harm and/or suicidal thoughts, plans or attempts
  • able to communicate using English language sufficient to understand and be understood without a translator.

CYP will be invited to self-identify and represent one of the following priority risk groups:

  • males
  • those living in higher deprivation neighbourhoods
  • Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity (BAME)
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Queer, Transgender, and others (LGBQT+)
  • care experienced

Participants will be invited to attend one or more facilitated sessions to work together to review the prototype and provide suggestions and feedback for improving it to make it more inclusive and accessible.

Engaging the public

We have used our contacts and collaborations within the field, reaching out through third sector, public health, education and academic sectors to recruit CYP. We also attended the NOW Festival 2024, delivered by Merseyside Youth Association, which took place during Children and Young People’s Mental Health Week. The theme for the festival was ‘Overcoming Adverse Experiences (ACEs)’, allowing CYP to discuss, learn and explore mental health, while gaining unique creative experiences.

We held a stall at NOW Festival 2024, which ran over 3 days at Liverpool Lighthouse in Anfield, to promote our research. We spoke to CYP and other organisations about our WASSP study, raising awareness and sharing our opportunity.

We really enjoyed being a part of this vibrant and busy event, with a meaningful and important message, and thank Merseyside Youth Association for supporting us in sharing our research study.

If you are interested in finding out more information about the study, please contact Helen Mulholland: helen.mulholland@liverpool.ac.uk