08 Nov What Is The U.K. Government Doing To Reduce Suicide Rates?
With Movember upon us and world mental health day just the other week, it seems a fitting time to discuss what the U.K. government has in store over the coming years to reduce suicide rates.
Although suicide rates have decreased since records began in 1981, unfortunately, suicide rates in the U.K. are still at a worryingly high levels, with 5,821 deaths due to suicide recorded in the U.K. in 2017.
Statistics show that men are three times more likely than women to take their own lives, with 2017 statistics showing that 15.5 in every 100,000 males take their own lives, compared to 4.9 in every 100,000 females. This gender gap has grown over the past 35 years; suicide rates for women have halved since 1981, whereas the rates for men has only fallen by around a quarter.
Statistics have also shown that suicide rates are the highest for those aged between 40 and 54 and that suicide rates in men aged 45 to 59 have risen. Worryingly, its the younger members of the population, the 16-24 years olds, who have the highest rates of suicidal thoughts.
So, with statistics still not looking great, what is the U.K. government doing to reduce these high rates of suicide?
In 2012, the U.K. Government began an integrated strategy, titled ‘Preventing Suicide in England: a cross-government outcomes strategy to save lives’. In 2017, the Government added to this strategy, stating that they aim to reduce suicide rates by 10% by 2020/2021.
The government proposed six goals to reduce suicide rates:
- To reduce the risk of suicide in key high risk groups by better targeting suicide prevention strategies
- To promote mental well-being in the wider population
- To reduce the availability and lethality of suicide methods
- To improve the reporting of suicidal behaviour in the media
- To promote research on suicide and suicide prevention
- To improve the monitoring of progress towards the saving lives
As many of you probably know, Theresa May has recently appointed Jackie Doyle-Price to be the United Kingdoms first ever suicide prevention minister. Jackie will work with the government, experts in suicide and self-harm, charities and those affected by suicide to help prevent suicide nation wide and implement the governments suicide reduction goals.
The government are trying to include better and more consistent local planning and action. They are ensuring that every local area has a multi-agency suicide prevention plan that has agreed priorities and action. Many areas will see the introduction of breavement services, with the local communities that are most affected by high suicide rates getting additional funding to help lower and prevent suicide in that area.
With regards to health services, the NHS is expected to increase its support for high risk groups. In schools, the government are pushing for better support for mentally unwell students and increased eduction on mental health related issues. Prisons are receiving funding for the training of prison officers to focus on identifying and reducing self-harm risks.
The government has proposed a 10 years strategy to break down the employment barriers for those suffering with mental health issues. The government is aiming to provide additional support for benefit claimants with mental health problems. The British Transport Police have also promised to take suicide prevention measures on their railways. Finally, the Samaritan’s helpline has received £1.8 million of funding to support is confidential 24/7 services and expand its consultation services to those most in need.
Overall, with more funding than suicide services have ever received before, the governments strategies to reduce suicide rates in the U.K. are looking optimistic. Lets hope that one day, suicide rates in the U.K. (and the rest of the world) will be as close to zero as possible.