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Provide more resources to tackle suicide, say ministers

More support for public mental health and early intervention services is needed if the government is to lower England’s suicide rate.
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Politicians say more support for public mental health and early intervention services is needed if the government is to lower Englands suicide rate.

The health select committee has today published an interim report into suicide prevention, which calls for an upcoming government strategy to be robust.

Its five main recommendations are:

  • Encourage strong national leadership and clear accountability, as well as regular and transparent external scrutiny.
  • Improve primary and secondary care provision, as well as services for those bereaved by suicide.
  • Healthcare professionals need better training to ensure that opportunities to involve families or friends in a patients recovery are maximised, where appropriate.
  • Consistent data is needed to enable swift investigations into suspected suicides and to identify possible clusters, in order to prevent further suicides.
  • Greater attention must be paid to breaches of guidelines relating to the reporting
  • Politicians say more support for public mental health and early intervention services is needed if the government is to lower England’s suicide rate.


    Picture: iStock

    The health select committee has today published an interim report into suicide prevention, which calls for an upcoming government strategy to be robust. 

    Its five main recommendations are:

    1. Encourage strong national leadership and clear accountability, as well as regular and transparent external scrutiny.
    2. Improve primary and secondary care provision, as well as services for those bereaved by suicide.
    3. Healthcare professionals need better training to ensure that opportunities to involve families or friends in a patient’s recovery are maximised, where appropriate.
    4. Consistent data is needed to enable swift investigations into suspected suicides and to identify possible clusters, in order to prevent further suicides.
    5. Greater attention must be paid to breaches of guidelines relating to the reporting of suicide by the media at national and local level. Restrictions on access to harmful internet content that may encourage suicide should also be considered.

    Statistics

    According to a recent Samaritans report, a total of 6,122 suicides were registered in the UK in 2014.

    This corresponds to a suicide rate of 10.8 per 100,000 people (16.8 per 100,000 for men and 5.2 per 100,000 for women).

    The most at-risk group in the UK was men aged 45-49, with a rate of 26.5 per 100,000.

    Higher figure

    Health select committee chair Sarah Wollaston said: ‘4,820 people are recorded as having died by suicide in England last year, but the true figure is likely to be higher.

    ‘Suicide is preventable and much more can and should be done to support those at risk.’

    A full report will be produced next year once the government has published its strategy and witnesses have been called to comment.

    RCN professional lead for mental health nursing Ian Hulatt said: 'Nurses and other health staff have considerable expertise in working to prevent suicide, though identifying those at risk and making the right intervention can be very challenging, especially with the enormous pressures on a small workforce. The committee is right to highlight that as well as better public mental health for the whole population, those at risk and subject to multiple risk factors such as deprivation need targeted action.

    'The NHS has a duty towards individuals and the community to improve care for people with known mental health problems, as well as those who may be at risk of developing them. Public services must now work together when the government’s strategy is refreshed to ensure that individuals do not slip through the net and tragedy can be avoided wherever possible.'


    Further information

    The report is available here


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