Action plan to reduce suicides in England

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The Government has launched a suicide prevention strategy for England and is to invest £1.5 million into prevention research.

The move, introduced in September 2012, is the first such initiative in 10 years and was, in part, in recognition of the mental health toll on many people from the recession.

In 2010 about 4,200 people took their own lives, with the suicide rate highest among men aged between 35 and 49. Men, overall, were three times more likely than women to take their own life, said the Department of Health.

The Preventing suicide in England strategy has identified six key areas for action:

  • developing a better understanding of why people take their own life and how it can be prevented;
  • working with the media and internet sectors to help parents ­ensure that children are not accessing websites that appear to ­encourage suicide;
  • reducing opportunities for suicide by ensuring prisons and mental health facilities keep people safer;
  • better support for high-risk groups, such as people with mental health problems and people who self-harm, and ensuring the health service effectively manages the mental health aspects as well as any physical injuries when people present as self-harming;
  • improving services for groups, such as children and young people, or ensuring the mental health needs of those with long-term conditions are met; and
  • providing better information and support to those bereaved or affected by suicide.

“One death to suicide is one too many,” said care services minister Norman Lamb. “We want to make suicide prevention everyone’s business. Over the past 10 years there has been real progress in reducing the suicide rate, but it is still the case that someone takes their own life every two hours in England.”

Professor Louis Appleby, chair of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group, said: “Suicide does not have one cause – many factors combine to produce an individual tragedy. Prevention too must be broad – communities, families and front-line services all have a vital role to play.”

Simon Lawton-Smith, head of policy at the Mental Health Foundation, said that the strategy “provides continuing momentum to the good work done over the past decade”.

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