Suicide epidemic must be tackled by new government

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Samaritans chief executive Ruth Sutherland

Inequalities which contribute to people taking their own lives must be addressed says charity 

12th June 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Mental health charity Samaritans is calling on the government to make suicide prevention a top priority and to deliver on election promises.

Throughout the election campaign, Samaritans appealed to voters to urge anyone standing for parliament to sign up to its campaign to make effective suicide prevention a priority in every part of the UK.

The charity will be following up with all the successful candidates who took part and holding them to that pledge.

Suicide is currently the biggest killer of men under 50 and of both men and women aged 20-34.

Samaritans chief executive Ruth Sutherland said: “Every week, Samaritans hears from thousands of people facing difficult life challenges, often coupled with dire economic circumstances. Suicide and inequality are inextricably linked. Disadvantage can aggravate difficult thoughts and feelings and make people more vulnerable to taking their own life.

“We welcome all MPs to join us in tackling inequality and delivering on the manifesto promises they were elected on that relate to suicide prevention.

“The Conservatives talked in their manifesto of being unafraid to address burning injustices, including the stigma of mental health and disability discrimination. We urge them to go further and work to reduce inequality in all its forms if they want to save lives.

“The government must counter the knock-on effect of inequality on suicide by directing extra mental health and wellbeing support to those with unstable employment, insecure housing, low incomes and areas identified as being socioeconomically deprived.

“Young people’s mental health must be a priority across the board - we believe that learning to manage your emotions is as important as learning to read and write. Parliament must legislate quickly to ensure that children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing is the number one priority in schools, working with staff and parents, and improving co-ordination between health and education services.

“Any reform of the Mental Health Act must ensure that effective support is available to anyone at risk of suicide.  And the government must take steps to implement the national suicide prevention strategy for England, with strong leadership, sufficient funds and robust plans to ensure that it does actually save lives.

Young people’s mental health must be a priority across the board -

“Labour has described mental ill health as ‘the biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age’, so we expect them to use their influence to ensure it is now addressed. Funding more school based counselling and improving psychological therapies for all ages will have an impact. Above all, we need all parties to recognise the increased suicide risk created by inequality, and work collaboratively to create a more equal society, tackling issues of loneliness and isolation, which also threaten wellbeing.

“More than six thousand people die by suicide in the UK every year. Continuing at that rate would mean one person taking their own life every 90 minutes of this new Parliament. Let’s work together so that by 2022 the picture is very different. Suicide is not inevitable, it is preventable. Despite the political challenges that may lie ahead, this is one of the biggest public health issues of our age, there’s never been more urgency to act.”