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9th January 2017
The Department of Health has published its latest update on the National Suicide prevention Strategy HERE.
Professor Louis Appleby, Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group, introduces this, the 3rd annual report of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy. He says,
"It offers a chance to consider areas where we need to increase our efforts if we are to reduce suicide rates. It is very welcome therefore that the Secretary of State for Health has set out a commitment to strengthen the National Strategy and drive forward key areas for action that will address current suicide prevention priorities.
We can see from the most recent national data that the suicide rate in England fell slightly in 2015, though the rate remains high in comparison to the last 10 years and it is too soon to say whether this fall is the beginning of a downward trend. For this reason we shouldn’t underestimate the scale of the challenge if we are to meet the national ambition of reducing the suicide rate by 10 per cent by 2020/21.
But there are positive signs. The suicide rate in mental health patients is down. The rate in men has fallen for two years and this fall is found most clearly in middle-aged men whose risk has been highlighted in the National Strategy. Even so, the highest rates are still found in men in their 40s and 50s and it remains the leading cause of death in young men. At the same time, the suicide rate in women has risen, though the male rate is still three times higher.
The National Strategy is strengthening its focus on men, self-harm and support for bereaved families. Several reports in recent years have raised concerns about the mental health of young people, suggesting rising rates of emotional problems and self-harm. Self-harm is most common in people under 25 and although suicide rates at this age are comparatively low, the latest figures from 2015 show a small rise.
The National Strategy is based on the best available evidence. We know that, for people who have self-harmed, skilled psychosocial assessment leads to better outcomes, yet currently only around 60 per cent of patients receive an assessment . We know that in mental health services, key components of suicide prevention are safer wards, early follow-up on hospital discharge and crisis resolution home treatment teams. We know that supporting young people at risk is a job for primary care, schools, the justice system and third sector as well as mental health services.
Similarly, a central theme of this year’s report is the need for local suicide prevention plans in every area, put together by the joint working of public health, mental health and the many agencies that support vulnerable and high risk people.
The National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group that oversees the Strategy brings together bereaved families, suicide prevention charities*, professionals and academic experts - I want to thank members for their commitment and wise counsel. Patterns of suicide are constantly changing and vigilance is literally vital."
Professor Louis Appleby CBE
*PAPYRUS is represented on the National Advisory Group by Ged Flynn.