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19 December 2016

Suicide Rates in UK 'Unacceptable', Say MPs

Suicides in England have risen from 4,202 in 2010 to
4,820 last year.
Suicide rates in UK 'unacceptable', say MPs
by Willem Marx, Sky News Reporter, 
19 December 2016

MPs are urging the Government to develop a strategy with strong national leadership and clear accountability to combat suicide.

A group of MPs have said the UK's suicide rate is "unacceptable" and called on the Department of Health to improve awareness training for GPs and increase monitoring for those patients most at risk.

Total suicides in England have risen from 4,202 in 2010 to 4,820 last year, and it remains the biggest killer of men under 49 and those aged between 15 and 24.

Experts estimate each such death costs the British economy around £1.67m, but the most lasting impact on the families of those left behind is often emotional.

"He was very, very poorly," Paula Seabourne said of her younger brother Sean, who she lost to suicide in 2013.

"But if the system had been in place, if the procedures had been in place, he may still be here today."

Sean struggled through several bouts of depression before his death, which followed a referral from his GP to community health workers and an assessment team that failed to communicate clearly with each other.

The House of Commons Health Committee states in its preliminary report released today that suicide prevention strategies introduced by the Government in 2012 have been only partially implemented.

A 2015 report found that 30% of local health authorities in England have failed to introduce them at all.

The committee specifically recommends improvements to outpatient care and GP training, an increase to information sharing and better support for bereaved families.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Every death by suicide is a tragedy and devastating for families, friends and communities.

"We are investing almost £1bn in providing mental health support in A&E and home based crisis care - and are currently updating our suicide prevention strategy, which we are confident will address many of the issues raised by the committee."

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can also call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK.


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