Government pledges 1.5m for suicide prevention research
The government has promised to pump £1.5 million into research exploring how to prevent suicides among those most at risk of taking their own lives.
The pledge comes as ministers unveiled a new suicide prevention strategy that is aiming to cut the suicide rate and provide more support to bereaved families
Funding will be used to look at how suicides can be reduced among people with a history of self-harm.
Researchers will also focus on cutting suicides among children and young people and exploring how and why suicidal people use the internet.
Launching the new strategy to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day, care services minister Norman Lamb said: “One death to suicide is one too many - we want to make suicide prevention everyone’s business.
“Over the last 10 years there has been real progress in reducing the suicide rate, but it is still the case that someone takes their own life every two hours in England.
“We want to reduce suicides by better supporting those most at risk and providing information for those affected by a loved one’s suicide.”
Around 4,200 people in England took their own lives in 2010 and suicide continues to be a public health issue - especially in the current period of economic uncertainty, the Department of Health said.
The suicide rate is highest amongst men aged between 35-49, while men are three times more likely than women to take their own life, according to statistics.
The new strategy, which is being backed by charity the Samaritans, is the first in more than 10 years.
Under the fresh approach, the government will work with the UK Council for Child Internet Safety to help parents ensure their children are not accessing harmful suicide-related websites.
It will also aim to reduce opportunities for suicide by ensuring prisons and mental health facilities keep people safer.
Improved support for high-risk groups - such as those with mental health problems and people who self-harm - and well as those bereaved or affected by suicide will also be offered.
Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy Advisory Group, Professor Louis Appleby said: “Suicide does not have one cause - many factors combine to produce an individual tragedy.
“Prevention too must be broad - communities, families and front-line services all have a vital role.
“The new strategy will renew the drive to lower the suicide rate in England.”
Around 50 national organisations from the voluntary, statutory and private sectors have also agreed to work together to tackle suicide by sharing best practice and providing support to those in need.
Simon Lawton-Smith, head of policy at the Mental Health Foundation, said: “We welcome this new strategy. It provides continuing momentum to the good work done over the past decade in reducing the number of people who take their own lives each year.
“However, there are still over five and a half thousand suicides each year in the UK, with over 4000 of these occurring in England alone. More worryingly, the recent decrease in the suicide rate seems to have halted. It is therefore even more important that suicide prevention remains a high priority in a time of continued economic uncertainty.”