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Government pledges to reduce suicide rate with launch of new strategy

The government has announced a major national strategy to reduce number of suicides, however charities in the sector warn that properly resourced services are the only solution.

12/09/23

Government pledges to reduce suicide rate with launch of new strategy

The government has today launched a new national strategy to rapidly reduce England’s suicide rate to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day.

The Suicide Prevention Strategy for England is a five-year plan, with the government saying they are “committed” to seeing the number of suicides in England decrease within 2 and a half years at the very latest.

Currently, there are more than 5,000 suicides per year in England. Female deaths by suicide are increasing at a higher rate than male deaths, and the government says it is “imperative” such trends are captured as early as possible and preventative measures put in place to save lives.

“This national cross-government strategy details over 100 actions we’ll take to ensure anyone experiencing the turmoil of a crisis has access to the urgent support they need,” Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said.

“It’s imperative we support people earlier to prevent them reaching the lowest point, while tackling emerging methods of suicide and eradicating harmful material online.”

Over 100 measures have been outlined in the strategy, including a ‘national alert system’ to notify relevant authorities of emerging methods of suicides and risks, and any required actions that can reduce access or limit awareness. Others include fresh guidance issued to first responders, and near real-time surveillance of trends in tragic suicides to be introduced on a national scale this year.

The government said it was “going further and faster” to ensuring children and young people receive the mental healthcare by providing tens of millions of children in schools across England with a dedicated mental health support team by the end of March 2025. These support teams will intervene where a mild-to-moderate mental health issue is identified and ensure children and young people are both protected and supported.

Responding to the strategy’s publication, Julie Bentley, CEO of Samaritans, praised aspects of the report but warned that any plans would need to be properly resourced to be effective.

“It is great to see that the Government has responded to our calls for a new National Suicide Prevention Strategy in England.

“In particular, a ‘no wrong door’ approach to be taken by public services should mean people in need of support no longer falling through the gaps, but instead will be part of a joined-up system that recognises the challenges they face are complex and shouldn’t be taken in isolation. This new strategy should now act as the driver to ensure this coordinated approach happens across all government departments, as well as local authorities.

“However, a plan without proper funding is like a car with no petrol - it may look great but it’s not going to get you where you need to be.

“At Samaritans we want to get to the point of achieving the lowest suicide rates ever recorded in this country, but this takes both money and ambition. It is disappointing that the new strategy’s ambition on cutting suicide rates does not match our own but the Chancellor at least has the opportunity to deliver the much-needed funding in his November Budget. Saving lives is always the best possible investment.”

Read the full strategy: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/suicide-prevention-strategy-for-england-2023-to-2028

If you are affected by any of the issues in this story you can call Samaritans on 116 123, or get in touch in other ways at https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/

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