Today I am publishing the first annual report on the suicide prevention strategy for England.
“Preventing Suicide in England: One year on”, 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.
In September 2012, we made clear our commitment to suicide prevention by publishing a new cross-Government strategy for England. Over the last decade, good progress has been made in reducing the suicide rate in England. But we knew that the likely impact of the financial crisis meant that we needed to be prepared for possible upturns in suicide rates. The strategy set out very clearly what actions we can all take to reduce the toll of suicide in our society.
Sadly, since 2007 we have seen signs that the suicide rate has risen in England, as it has in many countries. There were 4,524 suicides in 2012.[Official Report, 6 February 2014, Vol. 575, c. 1MC.]
The annual report summarises developments at national level, identifies key research studies and their findings, and is accompanied by a report of statistical information on suicides.
The suicide prevention strategy placed a new emphasis on families bereaved or affected by suicide.
Family and friends of people who are having suicidal thoughts are often the first to notice when something is not right. We have heard from families bereaved by suicide that sometimes doctors can seem reluctant to take information from families or are hesitant to let families know their loved one might be at risk of suicide.
We have worked with the royal colleges and professional organisations to agree a joint statement designed to ensure information is shared appropriately, within the legal framework, to help prevent suicide.
Today’s report also highlights the importance of responsive and high-quality care for people who self-harm. We know that the risk of suicide is considerably higher among those with a history of self-harm. We also know that, too often, people who self-harm experience negative attitudes and lack of knowledge from staff in general hospitals. We are determined to tackle the negative attitudes surrounding self-harm.
The first annual report on the strategy has been prepared with the input 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.