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BPS calls on new Minister for Suicide Prevention to prioritise early intervention

10 October 2018

To mark World Mental Health Day, the Government has announced that Mental Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price MP will be given the additional role of Minister for Suicide Prevention.

The Minister will be responsible for ensuring that local authorities have plans in place to stop suicide and will also be looking at how technology can help to identify those at risk of suicide.

Kathryn Scott, BPS Director of Policy and Communications, says:

“This is the first time the Government has appointed a Minister for Suicide Prevention and it’s a welcome and significant move. Psychologists know that prevention and early intervention are vital to reducing the number of suicides in this country.

"Early identification of suicidal thoughts and behaviours, and effective care for those of us at risk are crucial in ensuring people receive the care they need and deserve.” 

While there has been a recent fall in the number of suicides, the decline has slowed and the BPS is calling for more action to strengthen care and safety planning. Another key area is the need to tackle stigma and improve training on identification and prevention in health, social care and education.

“One of the most important challenges for Mrs Doyle-Price is that we all need to understand better the barriers – physical and psychological - that prevent people asking for help,” continued Ms Scott. 

The new Minister for Suicide Prevention should prioritise the following five actions:  

  • Introduce training for all GPs so they can identify the signs and behaviours that would suggest a patient is thinking about suicide and ensure they know where to refer people for immediate and appropriate support. 
  • Work with the National Institute for Care and Health Excellence (NICE) to secure better take-up of their guidelines on risk assessment following self-harm and to develop guidelines for stepped intervention and post suicide support.
  • Take steps to ensure that anyone who is discharged from hospital after attempting suicide receives a follow-up appointment within three days, which is the most dangerous point in the timeline. 
  • People bereaved by suicide are at higher risk of attempting suicide themselves. The new minister should ensure that the necessary support for these groups is available, following the guidance outlined in [link: Help is at Hand] produced by Public Health England and the National Suicide Prevention Alliance.
  • Secure funding for research into the causes of suicide and the stigma that surrounds it, and fund trials into suicide prevention, especially in vulnerable groups. Further investment for research into effective public mental health interventions and innovative brief psychological interventions is also vital.

For more information please see the Society’s briefing paper on Suicide Prevention 'Understanding and preventing suicide: A psychological perspective'.

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