‘Challenge the inevitability of suicide’ – Health Minister Alastair Burt

Suicide is not inevitable, delegates at the National Suicide Prevention Alliance conference were told by Health Minister Alastair Burt MP yesterday.

Outlining successful interventions that supported his stance, including empowering local communities to implement suicide prevention plans, he said that suicide was often known as a “silent killer” because the people close to the person who had taken their own life often did not know anything was wrong, and this is where communities could intervene.

Pub landlords, gym workers, coroners and others who might come into contact with people in distress have been trained in suicide prevention as part of one of the Zero Suicide pilot projects.

The Time to Change campaign, which is jointly run by Rethink Mental Illness and Mind, was also important as it tackled stigma, especially language used about suicide and mental health, Mr Burt said.

“Suicide is a constantly changing phenomenon – we need to be constantly vigilant,” said Professor Louis Appleby, chair of the National Suicide Prevention Advisory Group.

Professor Appleby also suggested more needed to be done to help the high risk groups, who include middle aged men, people who self harm, those with mental health problems and prisoners.

Professor Appleby also praised Samaritans Media Guidelines for promoting responsible reporting of suicide.

NSPA Co-Chair Brian Dow of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “The NSPA is committed to campaigning to reduce stigma, encouraging people to seek help, and providing appropriate support for people struggling and those bereaved by suicide.

“Organisations across the UK working together going forward are key to reducing suicide. The NSPA is also promoting good practice by producing for the first time a guide for online moderators to help them respond to suicidal content online. This is an area which has long been a concern.

“Better data and evidence, a clear joint strategy for prevention and reducing access to means people use to take their own lives will also be priorities for the NSPA for the next three years.

– ENDS –

Notes to editors:

The National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) is a cross-sector, England-wide coalition committed to reducing the number of suicides in England, and improving support for those bereaved or affected by suicide. The NSPA has developed from the Call to Action for Suicide Prevention and will continue to build on this national collaboration.

Co-Chairs of the Alliance are Ruth Sutherland, Chief Executive Officer of Samaritans; Brian Dow, Director of External Affairs, Rethink Mental Illness; and Hamish Elvidge, Chair of The Matthew Elvidge Trust.

The NSPA is working with more than 50 organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors, who are committed to working towards reducing suicide and providing support for people bereaved by suicide.

Members include Rethink Mental Illness, Samaritans and The Matthew Elvidge Trust, that jointly Chair the NSPA, PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide, CALM, Royal College of Psychiatrists, and Mind. The NSPA is funded by the Department of Health and the conference is supported by Public Health England.

For further information about National Suicide Prevention Alliance please contact info@nspa.org.uk

For press enquiries please contact Sue Royal at Samaritans press office 0208 394 8348. For out of hours enquiries, please call 07943 809162.

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