need, and fewer loved ones will go through the heartbreak of losing a friend or relative to suicide, as the government launches a new national strategy to rapidly reduce England’s suicide rate. The National Suicide Prevention Strategy delivers a commitment to see the number of suicides in England decrease within two and a half years at the very latest.
Brendan Clarke-Smith MP said: “I welcome the Government’s effort, as well as continued action across the NHS and Nottinghamshire. This cross-government strategy is to bring everybody together around common priorities and set out actions that can be taken to reduce the suicide rate over the next 5 years.
“With initial reductions observed within half this time or sooner. This will also improve support for people who have self-harmed, improve support for people bereaved by suicide”.
The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan sets out an ambition to grow the mental health workforce by 73% by 2036 to 2037, and the workforce already continues to grow to help cut waiting lists – one of this government’s top five priorities. In March 2023, there were almost 9,300 more mental health staff working than the previous year.
Over 100 measures have been outlined in the cross-government strategy aimed at saving lives, providing early intervention, and supporting anyone going through the trauma of a crisis. This includes:
• A new national alert system to notify relevant authorities, like schools, universities, and charities of emerging methods of suicides and risks, and any required actions that can reduce access or limit awareness
• fresh guidance issued to first responders, recognising new and emerging methods and how such incidents should be dealt with
• near real-time surveillance of trends in tragic suicides to be introduced on a national scale this year – enabling more timely and targeted actions
• a government pledge to collaborate with countries around the world to target and stop suppliers of dangerous and lethal substances at the source.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Steve Barclay, said:
“Too many people are still affected by the tragedy of suicide, which is so often preventable. “This national cross-government strategy details over one hundred actions we’ll take to ensure anyone experiencing the turmoil of a crisis has access to the urgent support they need.
“It’s imperative we support people earlier to prevent them reaching the lowest point, while tackling emerging methods of suicide, and eradicating harmful material online. “We’re working at pace to achieve this, and we continue to invest billions of pounds to transform and improve our nation’s mental health services and – most importantly – save lives.”
Last month the government launched a £10 million Suicide Prevention Grant Fund, calling on the voluntary sector across England to apply for funding to continue supporting tens of thousands of people experiencing suicidal thoughts. It comes alongside an expected spend of £13.6 billion this year alone to transform the country’s mental health services so millions of people can quickly access NHS support.
The government is committed to ensuring children and young people receive the mental health care they deserve. It is going further and faster to achieve that. Minister for Mental Health, Maria Caulfield, said: “The impact of suicide on individuals and loved ones is devastating.
“This strategy will bolster the work this government is already undertaking to reduce the number of suicides, and help us intervene where needed as early as possible.
“An extra £2.3 billion is going into our mental health services each year, which will help an additional two million people access vital NHS-funded mental health support by 2024.” Millions of children in schools across England will have access to a dedicated mental health support team by the end of March 2025, with at least half of school pupils set to receive such support.
Mental health support teams intervene where a mild-to moderate mental health issue is identified and ensure children and young people are both protected and supported. As part of its ongoing work with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), the government will explore whether regulatory change is required to decrease how many tablets like paracetamol can be sold to a customer or patient at once