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Volume 472: debated on Thursday 21 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the last suicide prevention campaign aimed at school students was launched; and how much his Department has spent on suicide prevention in schools in each of the last five years. (186791)

I have been asked to reply.

The Government are committed to improving safeguards for children. That is why they have introduced new legislation, new guidance, new structures and new policy initiatives to make children safer and to ensure that there is a proper focus on children at the very heart of Government. A national suicide prevention strategy for England was launched by the Department of Health in September 2002 with the aim of supporting the target to substantially reduce the mortality rate from suicide and undetermined injury by at least 20 per cent. by 2010.

We are currently working with Papyrus on the prevention of young suicide and funding the expansion of their helpline called Hopeline UK. We are also putting £30 million into the NSPCC to expand and improve their services so that more children can be given advice and help. Action to tackle this complex problem also includes raising awareness of the potential dangers of suicide websites/chat rooms and working with Internet Service Providers to discourage them from hosting sites which may encourage suicide. The independent Byron review is looking into helping children and young people get the most from the internet whilst protecting them from inappropriate and potentially harmful material.

The Department does not collect data on how much schools spend on suicide prevention. However grant funding to local authorities for implementing the ten year programme of improvements for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) set out in the National Framework for Children and Young People and Maternity Services (NSF) has increased from £10 million in 1999-2000 to £91 million in each financial year from 2003-04 to 2007-08. The Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) programme was created to develop all children and young people's social and emotional skills at school, which help to underpin emotional wellbeing. SEAL will be supported by an extra £13.7 million over four years, on top of the £7 million a year already confirmed, and the aim is that by 2010-11 SEAL will be available to all schools nationally. In addition from April we will invest an additional £60 million over three years to support schools to work with mental health practitioners and strengthen the provision of targeted mental health services for children and adolescents. We also announced plans in 2007 for an independent review of CAMHS.