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Posted on Sep 11 2023 by Fiona Bailey

The Government has pledged to reduce England’s suicide rate within 2.5 years of launching the new National Suicide Prevention Strategy.

This strategy sets out the government’s ambitions over the next 5 years to:

  • reduce suicide rates
  • improve support for people who have self-harmed
  • improve support for people bereaved by suicide

The strategy was informed by the mental health call for evidence launched in 2022, and was developed to identify priority groups, suicide risk factors and steps we need to take in consultation with:

  • individuals
  • organisations across national and local government
  • the NHS
  • the private sector
  • the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors
  • academia

It includes steps and actions from across government and a wide range of organisations to achieve these ambitions with the ultimate aim to reduce the suicide rate over the next 5 years – with initial reductions in half this time.

St Andrew's Healthcare has issued a statement in response to the plan. 

Dr Sanjith Kamath, St Andrew’s Healthcare’s Executive Medical Director, said:

“We very much welcome the Government’s suicide prevention strategy, which aims to reduce suicide rates in England amid particular concern over rising deaths and self-harm among young people. We’re pleased to see that the strategy has been informed by those with living experience of mental ill health, and has a focus on reducing deaths in men - particularly those with autism, while recognising the need for more support for women during pregnancy and after it.

“However, for the strategy to be successful it needs the correct funding put behind it. Mental health services have faced decades of underfunding in comparison to physical health, and this disparity has meant that vital services have been stretched and research into mental health has been left behind. It is vital that there’s more research into self-harm and deaths from suicide, particularly around the epidemiology, causes, clinical management, outcome and prevention. As a society we must tackle mental health inequalities and ensure everyone has easy access to support as soon as they need it, and not just at crisis point.

“As a mental health provider and Charity, St Andrew’s Healthcare would like to see a focus on prevention and education in schools. It’s encouraging there is a plan for this in the strategy, but we would like to see this put into action. We have seen the significant benefits of our Mental Wellness Programme for Schools, LightBulb which has helped 30,000 children, teachers and parents across 50 schools. Such programmes are key in terms of educating children about their thoughts and feelings, which in turn can reduce self-harm and suicide rates.

“We would also like to see more mental health support available in the community so people do not have to go to hospital miles from their homes just to receive the right care, support and treatment. That’s why our own 5-year strategy outlines our plans to provide more community support, but we can’t do it alone. We need to ensure there’s sufficient funding and improved partnership working between physical healthcare, mental healthcare and social care. Suicide is complex but entirely preventable.”

To read the strategy in full, please click here