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Volume 300: debated on Monday 10 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary for Health what action he is taking to reduce the incidence of suicide. [14564]

Latest figures show an encouraging downward trend in the overall suicide rate–9.8 per cent. since 1990 (based on a three-year average) but there is no room for complacency. As there is no single reason why people take their own lives, action needs to be taken on a number of fronts. Measures include: reducing access to means, for example, we recently announced restrictions on paracetamol and aspirin pack sizes and improvements in warnings about the effect of overdose; increasing public awareness and understanding about mental illness; focusing on high risk groups, for example, the development of a telephone helpline for young men; educating health and social care professionals about depression; audit of serious incidents and the dissemination of findings; and improving primary and secondary mental health services.