Government action to prevent suicide and better support the bereaved

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A new consultation on preventing suicide has been launched today by the Care Services Minister, Paul Burstow.  Bereaved families and experts in general practice, local government, transport, mental health and criminal justice will all help to inform a new strategy to be published in the New Year following a 3-month consultation phase.

One person dies every two hours as a result of suicide in England – the Government is determined to do all it can to prevent suicides. The suicide strategy will place a new emphasis on family members.  This means working with relatives to prevent a vulnerable person taking their own life and better supporting those who have been bereaved following a suicide.

The consultation calls for views on six areas of action:

  1. Reduce the risk of suicide in key high risk groups such as prisoners;
  2. Tailor approaches to improve mental health in specific groups such as veterans and people with depression or alcohol addiction;
  3. Reduce access to the means of suicide in order to reduce the number of suicides;
  4. Provide better information and support to those bereaved or affected by a suicide;
  5. Support the media in delivering sensible and sensitive approaches to suicide and suicidal behaviour; and
  6. Support research, data collection and monitoring.

The 2011 Annual Report of the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness has also been published today and reveals:

  • Patient suicides have fallen from a peak of 1,315 in 2004 to 1,196 in 2008. The number of patient suicides has been under 1,200 for the last three years.
  • In‐patient suicides in England are at their lowest level since 1997 with 94 recorded in 2008 compared to 214 in the first year of the Annual Report.
  • The number of suicides by patients who refused treatment fell over the decade from 245 in 1997 to 154, although there was a slight rise between 2007 and 2008.

If you need help

If you need help and support now and you live in the UK or the Republic of Ireland, please call the Samaritans on 116 123.

If you live elsewhere, we recommend finding a local Crisis Centre on the IASP website.

We also highly recommend that you visit the Connecting with People: Staying Safe resource.


Consultation on preventing suicide in England: a cross-government outcomes strategy to save lives. Department of Health, 19th July 2011.

Help is at hand: a resource for people bereaved by suicide and other sudden, traumatic death. Department of Health, 28th April 2010.

The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness (PDF). Annual report for England, Wales and Scotland, 19th July 2011.

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Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He's worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service; an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol, surrounded by dogs, elflings and lots of woodland!

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