Last reviewed 28 June 2022
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid has announced that the Government will be publishing a new National Ten-year Suicide Prevention Plan to reduce risk of suicide and bolster services.
The Government is currently calling for views to help shape this work. Sajid Javid highlighted the importance of seeking help and the wide-ranging plans already underway to bolster support services, as well as new initiatives to reduce suicides, including better services for bereaved families and better use of technology to understand the causes of suicide.
In a speech at the London headquarters of Papyrus, a suicide prevention charity, he talked about the loss of his brother to suicide and said: “Almost everyone in this country has been touched by suicide in some way. The Samaritans, doing amazing work, answer a call for help every 10 seconds and tragically, around every 90 minutes someone dies from suicide in the UK.”
The Health Secretary called specifically on men to contribute their views to help inform the new Ten-year Mental Health Plan as well as the refreshed National Suicide Prevention Plan, as only 19% of respondents so far have been male.
Men in their 40s and 50s make up a disproportionately high number of male suicides, at around 40%. In 2021, there were over 5000 suicides registered in England. It is the biggest cause of death in men under the age of 50 and around three quarters of deaths from suicides each year are men. The highest rates of suicide in men have been in mixed and white ethnic groups, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
The Government will be taking steps to engage communities at greatest risk, focusing on socioeconomic and regional disparities. It aims to standardise safety guidance for frontline professionals working with at-risk people to ensure best practice, and there will be access to suicide prevention training for all MPs, parliamentary staff and frontline government workers to ensure they are equipped with the skills to interact with people in crisis.
Sajid Javid also outlined greater use of apps and online services and better data collection, including rolling out a national suspected suicide surveillance system early next year to help assess risk patterns and achieve better mitigation methods.
This will enable a better understanding of tackling complex causes of suicide, including online, through the Online Safety Bill, and ensuring upcoming legislation adapts to rapidly evolving challenges.
The Government said it is also bolstering voluntary and community suicide prevention services through £5 million of funding in 2021 to 2022 and improving support services to ensure that, by 2023 to 2024, anyone in the country can dial NHS 111 to reach their local NHS mental health team and access around the clock support.
The Mental Health and Wellbeing Plan: Discussion Paper and Call for Evidence runs from 12 April to 7 July 2022 and is available from GOV.UK, along with the speech.