Alongside our friends and colleagues from mental health groups across the UK, we have signed the letter to new Prime Minister Liz Truss to call for suicide prevention to be included in the Government’s Levelling Up agenda.
The letter, co-signed by co-signed by representatives from If U Care Share, Samaritans, Beyond, Chasing the Stigma, James’ Place, Harmless, CALM, Rose Paterson Trust, the CSJ Foundation, was delivered today by If U Care Share founder Matthew Smith at the end of his 11-day 289 mile run from the charity’s offices in Chester-le-Street.
Matthew founded If U Care Share with his family after his brother Daniel O’Hare died by suicide. He completed his marathon journey from Chester-le-Street to Downing Street on Wednesday September 7 with the aim to deliver the letter to the new newly appointed Prime Minister, as well as raising funds and awareness around suicide and mental health.
Matthew has run in a t-shirt featuring the names of 183 people who have died by suicide, dedicated by families and friends, including Daniel, former Newcastle United Gary Speed and Love Island presenter Caroline Flack.
The letter urges the new PM to include suicide in the Levelling Up legislation and we as a group of charities have offered to help the Government shape policy on the subject.
“As a group of 10 local and national suicide prevention organisations, we are writing to urge you to ensure that suicide prevention is integrated within the Levelling Up agenda.
“Suicide is complex and rarely down to one thing. However, insecure income, unmanageable debt, unemployment, poor housing conditions, and other socio-economic factors all contribute to higher suicide rates. People living in the most disadvantaged communities face the highest risk of dying by suicide.
“We believe that the Levelling Up agenda, your party’s flagship manifesto policy, provides a fantastic opportunity to address this stark regional health inequality and ensure that fewer people die by suicide. And we want to help.”
Amateur footballer Matthew started training for his gruelling run a year after snapping his achilles.
The run, sponsored by 13 businesses, including VH Bio and Steve Morgan Foundation, has already raised more than £27,000 for the charity which was set up by Matthew and his family following Daniel O’Hare’s death at the age of 19.
The charity now provides valuable services for families affected by suicide and mental health workshops for schools, businesses and Premier League, EFL and WSL football academies.
Suicide is the biggest killer of young men across the North of England and Scotland and the biggest killer of young people across the UK.
The letter, delivered to Downing Street just two days after the new Premier took over, calls on the Government to include suicide prevention in the Levelling Up White Paper.
The united group of ten mental health and suicide prevention charities, which offer a range of support and services to people affected by mental health and suicide, has also offered to meet the new Prime Minister.
According to the Office for National Statistics in England in 2020.
- 4912 suicides were registered in England.
- The overall suicide rate was 10.0 per 100,000 compared to 10.8 per 100,000 in 2019.
- The male suicide rate for was 15.3 per 100,000 compared to the female suicide rate of 4.9 per 100,000
- Males aged 45-49 continue to have the highest suicide rate (23.8 per 100,000)
- There is regional variation in the suicide rates.
- The North East of England had the highest suicide rate (13.3. per 100,000) in 2020, which has been the case in five out of the last 10 preceding years and saw an increase of 15.7% compared to 2019.
Matthew Smith said: “Suicide prevention needs to be part of the Government’s Levelling Up agenda because the North East and North West have the highest rates of suicide – and it should be an obvious option to invest in to improve things.
“The letter urges the new Prime Minister to ensure suicide prevention and support for those bereaved by suicide sits at the heart and alongside the Levelling Up White Paper – because currently it doesn’t.
“It has been a tough few months training to be ready for the run, just a year after snapping my achilles. And I know there will be some difficult days and moments ahead and some highs and lows along the route.
“But this is an important message that needs to be delivered to our new Prime Minister and the Government and it is an honour to carry the letter to Downing Street on behalf of so many people.”
Rt Hon Mary Elizabeth Truss MP
10 Downing Street
7th September 2022
Dear Prime Minister,
Levelling Up and Suicide Prevention
Congratulations on your appointment as Prime Minister.
During the leadership contest, we were pleased to see your commitment to prioritizing mental health, via increased mental health support for young people, both in schools and at GP surgeries.
As a group of 10 local and national suicide prevention organisations, we are writing to urge you to ensure that suicide prevention is integrated within the Levelling Up agenda.
Suicide is complex and rarely down to one thing. However, insecure income, unmanageable debt, unemployment, poor housing conditions, and other socio-economic factors all contribute to higher suicide rates. People living in the most disadvantaged communities face the highest risk of dying by suicide. According to the ONS, suicide rates for people of working age in the most deprived areas are more than double that of working aged people in the least deprived areas. The North East had the highest suicide rate (13.3. per 100,000) in 2020 in England.
We believe that the Levelling Up agenda, your party’s flagship manifesto policy, provides a fantastic opportunity to address this stark regional health inequality and ensure that fewer people die by suicide. And we want to help.
The work that we and other suicide prevention organisations undertake proves that suicide is preventable and that targeted intervention works. Despite this, at present, there is no mention of suicide prevention in either the Levelling Up Bill or White Paper. As the Government refreshes the National Suicide Prevention Plan, and takes action on cost of living, targeted action is needed to address the regional disparities in suicide rates.
Every death by suicide is a tragedy. To ensure that people everywhere can live longer and more fulfilling lives, policy intervention to prevent more deaths by suicide must be prioritised, particularly in the poorest areas. The adequacy and level of support should not depend on someone’s postcode.
Prime Minister, we urge you to prioritise suicide prevention within the Levelling Up agenda and we would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss this further.
Co- signed by PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide, If U Care Share, Samaritans, Chasing the Stigma, James’ Place, CALM, The Rose Paterson Trust, The CSJ Foundation, Beyond and Harmless