Meldreth father launches Zero Suicide Alliance - four years after death of son

PUBLISHED: 11:05 17 May 2019

Meldreth's Steve Mallen - pictured outside No 10 Downing Street with Joe Rafferty, chief executive at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust - has launched the Zero Suicide Alliance. Picture: Zero Suicide Alliance

Meldreth's Steve Mallen - pictured outside No 10 Downing Street with Joe Rafferty, chief executive at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust - has launched the Zero Suicide Alliance. Picture: Zero Suicide Alliance

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The father of a Meldreth 18-year-old who died in 2015 has launched a new national initiative which aims to reform mental health services to reduce the number of suicides in the UK.

Edward Mallen was just 18 when he took his own life in February 2015. Picture: Courtesy of Steve MallenEdward Mallen was just 18 when he took his own life in February 2015. Picture: Courtesy of Steve Mallen

Zero Suicide Alliance - which is a result of a two-year journey by Steve Mallen, father to Edward who took his own life in 2015 - was launched at a conference in London on Thursday last week.

Around 200 NHS and Public Health leaders, supported by mental health champions and campaigners, were present.

The ZSA has been ratified by the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State and the Department of Health & Social Care and will receive up to £2 million in funding over the next two years.

Mr Mallen, who also founded mental health charity The MindEd Trust after Edward's death, said: "This has been a long and tortuous journey for me personally but, in honour of my dear son and the thousands we have lost so needlessly to suicide, together with the hundreds of thousands who are suffering from mental illness today, we are pleased to be launching a new model and a new vision for mental healthcare and suicide prevention.

Joe Rafferty, chief executive at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, speaking at the launch of the Zero Suicide Alliance. Picture: Zero Suicide AllianceJoe Rafferty, chief executive at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, speaking at the launch of the Zero Suicide Alliance. Picture: Zero Suicide Alliance

"We have set ourselves the bold target of reforming the whole system.

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"We want trusts to work with trusts and localities to come together to improve care pathways and reduce suicide.

"With cross-party support, a highly successful public awareness campaign and an effective media programme we have been able to present the government with a cost-effective and deliverable programme which will move the mental health mountain in the right direction.

Meldreth's Steve Mallen speaking at the launch of the Zero Suicide Alliance. Picture: Zero Suicide AllianceMeldreth's Steve Mallen speaking at the launch of the Zero Suicide Alliance. Picture: Zero Suicide Alliance

"When we met with ministers, we presented not just the problem, but also the solution.

"There is considerable controversy around the word zero. Zero is not a target, but it must be an aspiration. We will not be able to eradicate suicide, but it must surely be our intent to try. If zero is not the right number, what is? We have assembled a movement of real depth and power and I am delighted to be working with some of the world's leading experts on this crucially important issue.

"Public attitudes towards mental health and suicide have changed since my son died. The challenge now is to dramatically improve what happens when a person walks into a GP surgery, a mental health facility, their school, their university or their workplace."

For more on the Zero Suicide Alliance go to zerosuicidealliance.com.

Meldreth's Steve Mallen - pictured outside No 10 Downing Street with Joe Rafferty, chief executive at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust - has launched the Zero Suicide Alliance. Picture: Zero Suicide AllianceMeldreth's Steve Mallen - pictured outside No 10 Downing Street with Joe Rafferty, chief executive at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust - has launched the Zero Suicide Alliance. Picture: Zero Suicide Alliance

Free suicide prevention training is also available via http://bit.ly/2P5M0nc.

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