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Suicide prevention: charity head urges NHS England trusts to share information about vulnerable children and teenagers

Around 1,600 ten to 34-year-olds take their lives in the UK each year, according to youth suicide prevention charity Papyrus. 

Around 1,600 ten to 34-year-olds take their lives in the UK each year, according to young suicide prevention charity Papyrus 


Evidence suggests family members are important in ensuring health professionals’ interventions are successful, according to Papyrus
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Too many young people are taking their own lives because NHS professionals are not sharing information with their families, a charity has warned.

Papyrus, a charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide, has written to the head of every NHS trust in England urging them to encourage staff to share information about vulnerable children and teenagers with families and schools.

‘Countless’ instances 

The charity’s chief executive Ged Flynn said it had heard of ‘countless’ instances where a young person’s history of suicidal behaviour was kept from loved ones.

In some cases, permission had been given by the patient to share the information, the charity said.

In his letter, Mr Flynn says that ‘too often’ families only learned of a young person’s suicidal behaviours after their death.

Evidence suggests family members are important in ensuring interventions from health professionals are successful.

‘Misguided understanding of protecting data’ 

Mr Flynn’s letter urges each NHS trust chief to write to their employees and back them if they decide to share information about a patient to keep them safe from suicide.

He writes: ‘Papyrus believes that every NHS trust chief executive can change the culture of a frightened workforce, often scared by a misguided understanding of protecting data.

‘Rather, sharing information can protect life. NHS bosses can help us to save young lives by empowering staff to make professional judgments, without prejudice or fear of litigation, and based on the best interest of the patient.’

Around 1,600 10 to 34-year-olds take their lives in the UK each year, the charity said.

A ‘significant number’ were known to primary care and visited a GP in the months before their death, it added.

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