How Can Insurers Contribute to Suicide Prevention Initiatives?
Oct 15
Oct 17

Addressing the issue of preventable suicides in the working population.

Suicide affects all communities in the UK. On average 17 people die by suicide every day. And it affects young people the most: suicide is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 49 and women under 34 (Office for National Statistics, 2017).

Suicide is preventable. Numerous public, private and voluntary organisations play an important role in suicide prevention. We believe insurers can work together with suicide prevention experts to also help in this important societal issue. Combining the know-how, time and resources of insurers with experts from the suicide prevention field, we aim to contribute to reducing the problem of suicide in the working population. Help us to make a difference. We want to save as many lives as possible; even if we save one life it will be worth it.

 Examples of suicide prevention initiatives

To demonstrate how we could have a real impact, National Rail recently worked with the Samaritans and came up with the simple idea of putting Samaritans helpline posters at the end of train platforms. They also trained station staff on how to look out for ‘red flags’ and created the ‘Brew Monday’ tea bag initiative – encouraging people to talk to each other. This saw a reduction in suicides on the rail lines by 20%. Pretty impressive for a relatively low-cost initiative which also saved National Rail millions of pounds each year.

Mapo Bridge, over the Han River in Seoul, South Korea, was dubbed the ‘Bridge of Death’: between 2007 and 2012, more than 100 people attempted suicide from the Bridge. The Seoul City government worked with Samsung Life Insurance, psychologists and suicide prevention specialists. They added interactive handrails along the bridge, with motion sensors to detect people's movements, and light up inspirational messages. The suicide rate from Mapo Bridge dropped 77% in the first year. The bridge has become a popular walking spot and is now known as the ‘Bridge of Life’ (YouTube video).

Cost of suicide

The cost of suicide to society is incalculable, with the largest component being the intangible human costs experienced by families. The cost of a suicide for someone of working age in the UK is estimated to exceed £1.6 million (Knapp et al, 2014). In the life insurance context we estimate the UK insurance industry pays out over £100m in death claims each year.


This project is has been completed and closed for applications. See our Innovation Projects Listing for a full details on upcoming projects.

What is on the menu

Join our Cookhouse Lab in London, our first UK Pop-Up Lab, where we’ll collaborate and run through a series of design thinking exercises to develop a workable solution to contribute to the reduction of suicides.


Join our Cookhouse Lab in London, our first UK Pop-Up Lab, where we’ll collaborate and run through a series of design thinking exercises to develop a workable solution to contribute to the reduction of suicides.

During this three-day workshop, we’ll use insights from the latest research and proven techniques from industry players such as Google to overcome the limitations of traditional brainstorming so that we can create tangible, testable solutions together:

  • The first day is all about the problem: understanding who is affected, what currently happens and where we can best focus our efforts and attention.
  • On the second day, we grab inspiration from our past experiences; use a mixture of individual and group working to generate diverse ideas; and follow a “dot-mocracy” approach to identify the most helpful.
  • And on the third day we create the storyboard: a representation of our best ideas that could tackle the problem.

Exactly what happens next is always hard to predict as it depends on what the group co-create.  But we’ll use the sponsorship funds to create a tangible prototype of the storyboard for the group to then take forward.  And whatever happens, we’re sure the results will be novel, focused and relevant to the problem.


In addition to insurance and reinsurance company participants, we welcome academics, psychiatrists, and suicide prevention specialists to join us on this design sprint, as your expertise and experience will be essential to this project. Please contact us at for more information.


There is a nominal sponsorship fee for re/insurance companies to participate in this project. Please inquire by filling in the form on this page and a member of our team will be in touch to discuss options.

Project Type

  • Open innovation project
  • Project team will consist of individuals from different organizations


  • Sprint: 3 Days
  • Start: October 15, 2018
  • End: October 17, 2018
  • Apply by: TBD


  • Insurance & Reinsurance (all regions worldwide) 
  • Life & Health
  • Employers

Target Group

  • Insurers & Reinsurers (all regions worldwide)
  • Business/Product
  • Risk Management
  • Health Professionals
  • Academics
  • Charities
  • Experts in the area of suicide prevention
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