New suicide prevention strategy to consider ‘online safety and gambling’ as risk factors

Gambling and online safety will be considered as potential risk factors in a new suicide prevention plan.

The last plan to prevent suicides in England was written a decade ago and an updated strategy will consider the “changing pattern of risk”, experts said.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said too many people “do not have the tools and support they need to look after their wellbeing or prevent mental health problems from escalating”.

The Government has issued a “call for evidence” to inform its 10-year mental health plan to see how services can be improved.

The plan will assess how local services, including schools, housing associations, social care, workplaces, job centres and youth centres, can provide earlier help to prevent people’s problems from becoming worse.

Mr Javid said: “The pandemic put unprecedented pressure on people across the country. While we continue to expand and transform our mental health services under the NHS Long Term Plan to meet rising demand, we know we need to go further.

“Too many people, particularly our children and young people, do not have the tools and support they need to look after their wellbeing or prevent mental health problems from escalating.

“We all have a role to play in resetting the way we approach mental health and our new 10-year plan will set an ambitious agenda for where we want the mental health of the nation to be a decade from now.”

Evidence gathered will also help inform the development of a separate National Suicide Prevention Plan, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

In 2020, there were 5,224 suicides in England and Wales with three quarters of these deaths among men.

Professor Louis Appleby, who advises the Government on its National Suicide Prevention Strategy, said: “A new plan for suicide prevention is a chance to reflect the changing pattern of risk, on issues such as online safety and gambling.

“It’s a chance to renew our vigilance and reinvigorate the efforts of the people we depend on – bereaved families, charities, professionals and many more. It’s a chance to ensure that suicide prevention is built into our recovery from Covid and to set the priorities for action for the next few years.”

Mubeen Bhutta, head of policy, public affairs and campaigns at Samaritans, said: “Suicide is preventable and the refreshed suicide prevention strategy and next 10-year mental health plan are real opportunities to save lives and make sure we learn lessons from previous approaches.

“It’s crucial this consultation hears from people with lived experience.

“The long-term impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic is likely to play out over many years and so it is vital that we have a well-planned strategy to ensure that mental health and suicide prevention are considered just as important as physical health to the wellbeing of the nation.”

Mental Health Minister Gillian Keegan said: “I encourage everyone, especially those who live with a mental health condition, carers and our brilliant workforce, to share their views on how we improve mental health services and reduce disparities across the country.”

– People are being asked to share their views via

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