A Department of Health consultation was launched last week on its suicide strategy, which calls for the views of the public and NHS staff on six “areas of action”.
These include reducing the risk of suicide in high-risk groups, improving mental health in groups such as former members of the armed services and those with addictions, and providing bereavement support.
Speaking to Nursing Times, care services minister Paul Burstow asked for feedback from nurses “across the board”. He said everyone in the health service should be involved in reducing suicides, not just those in mental health.
He added nurses in A&E often made triage decisions for people at risk of suicide that “can make a big difference”.
Mr Burstow said the strategy was part of the government’s plan for mental health to have “parity of esteem” with physical health.
The University of Manchester’s National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness report, also released last week, revealed that suicide rates among mental health inpatients in England in 2008, the most recent year for which figures are available, were at their lowest since 1997. Just 94 inpatient suicides were recorded in 2008, compared with 214 in 1997.