A new suicide prevention strategy will focus on supporting bereaved families and preventing suicide among at risk groups and is backed by a call to action led by the Samaritans and up to £1.5 million for new research.
The strategy, launched last month by Care Services Minister Norman Lamb, is the first in more than 10 years and aims to reduce the suicide rate in England and better support those who have been bereaved or affected by suicide.
GPs have been identified as being able to make a big difference to overall suicide rates, even though most practices will only have a patient who dies by suicide once every few years. GP practices will see a lot of people with many of the known factors for higher risk of suicide, for example long-term physical health problems, self-harming, drug and alcohol misuse and mental health problems. They are the first point of contact for many people who are experiencing distress or suicidal thoughts and who may be vulnerable to suicide. GPs are also the key gatekeepers to specialist services.
Work undertaken by the London School of Economics has shown that suicide prevention education for GPs can have an impact as a population-level intervention to prevent suicide.
There are six key areas for action outlined in the new strategy. These are:
- a better understanding of why people take their own life and how it can be prevented
- working with the media and the internet industry through the UK Council for Child Internet Safety to help parents ensure their children are not accessing harmful suicide-related websites
- reducing opportunities for suicide, by making sure prisons and mental health facilities keep people safer
- better support for high-risk groups, such as those with mental health problems and people who self-harm
- improving services for groups like children and young people and ensuring the mental health needs of those with long-term conditions are being met through the Government’s mental health strategy
- providing better information and support to those bereaved or affected by suicide.
More information is available here