COMMONS

Scale of avoidable loss of life by suicide is unacceptable

19 December 2016

The Government must prioritise a clear implementation strategy and increase support for public mental health and early intervention services if it is to bring down the unacceptable suicide rate, says the Health Committee in its interim report into suicide prevention.

Report to inform suicide prevention strategy

The Health Committee has published an interim report to allow the emerging themes from witnesses to be presented to government in time to inform the updated suicide prevention strategy. A full report will follow next year, once the strategy has been published and witnesses have been invited to give their views.

The key messages for suicide prevention

  1. Implementation – a clear implementation strategy, with strong national leadership and clear accountability, alongside regular and transparent external scrutiny.
  2. Services to support people who are vulnerable to suicide – this includes wider support for public mental health and wellbeing alongside the identification of and targeted support for at risk groups through early intervention services and access to help in non-clinical settings. The Committee recommends improvements in both primary and secondary care and services for those bereaved by suicide.
  3. Consensus statement on sharing information with families – professionals need better training to ensure that opportunities to involve families or friends in a patient’s recovery are maximised, where appropriate.
  4. Data – timely and consistent data is needed to enable swift responses to suspected suicides and to identify possible clusters, in order to prevent further suicides. The Committee recommends changes to help the law to make sure that suicides are not missed.
  5. Media – media guidelines relating to the reporting of suicide are being widely ignored and greater attention must be paid to dealing with breaches by the media, at national and local level. Consideration should be given to what changes should be made to restrict access to harmful internet content, which may encourage suicide.

Chair's comment

Chair of the Committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston, says:

"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.

I hope to see the most important messages from witnesses to our inquiry taken into account by the Government in their renewed suicide prevention strategy. The Committee will scrutinise the updated strategy and then hold a follow-up hearing before publishing a full report."

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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