Giving clinicians a stronger role in helping to prevent suicides in the future is one idea outlined in a consultation launched today by the government.
The Consultation on Preventing Suicide in England: A cross-government outcomes strategy to save lives launched by care services minister Paul Burstow will inform a new suicide prevention strategy due to be published in the new year.
Around 4,400 lives a year are lost to suicide and it is a leading cause of death in young adults. Estimates are that one person dies every two hours as a result of suicide in England.
The government wants bereaved families as well as experts in general practice, local government, transport, mental health and criminal justice to all help inform the new strategy.
The suicide strategy will place a new emphasis on family members, meaning working with relatives to prevent a vulnerable person taking their own life and better supporting those who have been bereaved following a suicide.
The government has asked the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Nursing, and the NHS Confederation to share their views on how clinicians should work with family members to prevent suicides.
The Department said this was the start of a new discussion between government and the medical profession on how to best take families into their confidence in helping a suicidal patient, whilst respecting patient confidentiality.
As part of the consultation, GPs, coroners and police have been asked to find new ways to ensure families get essential emotional support and practical advice following a suicide.
Mr Burstow said: “Losing a loved one to suicide is a tragedy. I want to make sure that we are doing all we can to prevent suicides and give vulnerable people the support they desperately need.
“I have been listening to families who have been bereaved following a suicide, and have called upon experts in healthcare, criminal justice and transport to help us put together a new strategy to save people from taking their own lives.”
The government has recently updated its Help is at Hand book, which gives information to those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
Mr Burstow has also written to the Royal College of GPs, The Coroners’ Society, Association of Chief Police Officers to call for the Help is at Hand book to be publicised and distributed more widely.
The consultation calls for views on six areas of action:
- reduce the risk of suicide in key high risk groups such as prisoners
- tailor approaches to improve mental health in specific groups such as veterans and people with depression or alcohol addiction
- reduce access to the means of suicide
- provide better information and support to those bereaved or affected by a suicide
- support the media in delivering sensible and sensitive approaches to suicide and suicidal behaviour
- support research, data collection and monitoring.
The consultation ends on 11 October.