Today Jeremy Hunt will announce plans to ensure that a faster response is available to people who are contemplating suicide. This will form part of a mission to achieve “zero suicides” in hospitals.
One in every four suicides that occur in England happen among people who are already in contact with mental health services. About 80 suicides a year happen during in-patient care.
As part of Hunt’s mission, NHS Trusts will be charged with learning from areas where suicide prevention measures are already well established.
Kate Majid, CEO of the Shaw Mind Foundation, welcomes the focus on this area. ‘It is vital that people who are vulnerable are supported as soon as possible, and Jeremy’s mission goes towards achieving this.
However, we just don’t think this goes far enough – we must have similar focus on prevention.
Only by supporting children, young people and adults in order to increase their psychological resilience will we reach the point where the contemplation of suicide is reduced.
Compulsory mental health education in all schools and colleges provides the opportunity to do this. We should not wait until someone is clearly distressed or in crisis. Let’s start having a conversation now. Let’s talk about how people really feel before they hit breaking point. We need to then make sure people know what to do if the answer is anything less than “okay”.
Insisting on improved access to crisis services is great, but we must look further upstream. Equipping young people with the relevant knowledge and skills will help us get to the point where suicide never feels like the only answer.’