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Government suicide prevention strategy sets out essential actions but must be backed up with sufficient resources, says Centre for Mental Health

11 September 2023

The Government’s suicide prevention strategy sets out some vital actions across government to save lives, but it is unclear how these will be resourced, Centre for Mental Health chief executive Andy Bell said today.

“We welcome the publication of a new national suicide prevention strategy. It’s vital that government, public services and civil society all take the steps necessary to save lives. The actions listed within the strategy are essential to prevent suicide deaths. We welcome the focus on improving support in primary care, which has been poorly resourced to support people at risk of suicide.

“The strategy must be fully funded, with sufficient resources for local councils and their partners to take action in their communities to prevent tragic losses of life. Local public health services have seen sweeping cuts since 2015, and the strategy does not identify additional resources for local areas beyond next April. This requires urgent clarification to ensure that local authorities can invest in support for communities, families and individuals at risk.

“We welcome the focus on addressing the risk factors for suicide, including both mental and physical health problems, financial difficulties, domestic violence, substance misuse, and gambling. But the action plan does not go far enough in many of these areas. For example, while the plan contains some welcome actions to prevent suicide deaths in prisons, it does not commit to make changes to the justice system to put people’s safety at its heart. And while the strategy recognises the importance of economic adversity, it says little about how government will tackle poverty or reform the benefits system to keep people safe.

“We also need further investment in mental health support so that people get the right help, quickly and close to home, beyond the current five years of the Long Term Plan. While significant progress has been made by the NHS in England since 2019, the nation’s mental health has become poorer and it is essential that we have a cross-government approach to both protect and promote our mental health and to invest further in essential services.”

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