Today I am publishing a new suicide prevention strategy for England.
“Preventing suicide in England: a cross-Government outcomes strategy to save lives”, has been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office. The document is also available at: www.dh.gov.uk/health/tag/suicide-prevention/.
Over the last 10 years, good progress has been made in reducing the suicide rate in England. However, there were over 4,200 suicides in 2010. That is one person dying from suicide every two hours. When someone takes their own life, the effect on their family and friends is devastating. Many others involved in providing support and care will feel the impact.
There is no single approach to preventing suicide. Effective prevention needs a broad, co-ordinated, system-wide approach, with input from a wide range of organisations. An inclusive society that avoids marginalising individuals, and which supports people at times of crisis, will help to prevent suicides. Government and statutory services also have a role to play—through building individual and community resilience, ensuring that vulnerable people in the care of health and social services and at risk of suicide are supported and kept safe, and ensuring that we intervene quickly when someone is in distress or crisis.
This strategy recognises the contributions that all sectors of our society can make in preventing suicide. In particular, it sets out to:
reduce the suicide rate in the general population; and
provide better support and information to those bereaved or otherwise affected by a suicide.
We have identified six key areas for action to support delivery of these objectives:
reduce the risk of suicide in high risk groups;
tailor approaches to improve mental health in specific groups;
reduce access to the means of suicide;
provide better information and support to those bereaved or affected by suicide;
support the media in delivering sensitive approaches to suicide and suicidal behaviour; and
support research, data collection and monitoring.
The strategy supports action by bringing together knowledge about groups at risk of suicide, applying evidence of what interventions are effective in preventing suicide, and highlighting available resources to support action at local level. It therefore supports local decision-making, while recognising the autonomy of local organisations to decide what works in their area.
One of the main aspects of the strategy, and one of the most significant changes from the previous strategy, is the greater prominence of measures to support families—those who are worried that a loved one is at risk and those who are having to cope with the aftermath of a suicide.
In developing the strategy, the Government have built on the successes of the previous strategy, published in 2002. It has also been revised and strengthened following consultation on a draft strategy which ended in October 2011. I am grateful to the wide range of individuals and organisations who provided input to this work.
The strategy has been developed with the support of leading experts in the field of suicide prevention, including the members of the national suicide prevention strategy advisory group, under the chairmanship of Professor Louis Appleby CBE. I would like to thank all members of this group for sharing their knowledge and expertise. Their continued support and leadership is central to our efforts to prevent suicide in England.