Our charity was set up following the suicides of the sons and partners of our founding trustees, which were a direct result of their addiction to gambling. A high proportion of suicides are caused by gambling – based on currently available research, 250-650 deaths a year. More suicides are inevitable until changes are made to the regulation of the gambling industry and treatment for gambling addiction. Our aim is to save lives and reduce families' suffering because of gambling.
We are primarily a campaigning organisation, informing and influencing politicians and policy makers, seeking to improve regulation and treatment. We also aim to improve awareness of the risks involved in gambling amongst young people. And, because there is an almost complete absence of it, we want to establish a support service for families and friends who are bereaved or otherwise seriously affected by gambling addiction.
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How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?
We are focussed on preventing gambling related suicides. To this end, we are campaigning for tighter regulation of gambling, including immediate implementation of the FOBT £2 maximum stake, and for significant improvement in treatment of gambling addiction, including increased funding and a mandatory levy on the industry. We are raising awareness of the risk of suicide caused by gambling addiction (a risk that was rarely publicly acknowledged until we started campaigning). We also plan to develop an approach to education of school age children and young adults, and we have established a service to support bereaved families and friends of people who died by suicide because of gambling.
What are your current priorities?
Gambling with Lives aims to:
- Support families who have been bereaved by gambling related suicides;
- Raise awareness amongst gamblers, their families and friends, and health professionals of the dangerous effects of gambling on mental health, and the high suicide risk;
In support of these aims, we will also seek to:
- Reduce gambling related harm by supporting better regulation of gambling products which lead to an increased risk of gambling addiction and adverse effects on health;
- Promote the treatment of gambling as a health issue which requires improved access to health services integrated with the NHS, and access to support for families and friends
- Give a voice to families and friends bereaved by gambling and bring the health issues surrounding gambling to the attention of policy makers and bodies responsible for regulating the gambling industry
What challenges are you currently facing?
- Reluctance within the industry and, to some extent, within organisations meant to be protecting people, to acknowledge the risk of mental health harm and of suicide
- Time and resources
- Lack of research evidence to inform action