First UK Minister for Suicide Prevention appointed

As part of her commitments to World Mental Health Day, Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that Jackie Doyle-Price will become the UK’s first Minister for Suicide Prevention.

The health minister will lead a new national effort on suicide prevention, bringing together a ministerial taskforce and working with national and local government, experts in suicide and self-harm prevention, charities, clinicians and those personally affected by suicide. As part of this, Doyle-Price will ensure every local area has an effective suicide prevention plan in place, and look at how the latest technology can be used to identify those most at risk.

The Prime Minister has also committed £1.8 million to ensure that the Samaritans charity can continue to provide immediate and lifesaving support to everyone who needs it, 24 hours a day, by saying the Samaritans’ helpline will remain free for the next four years.

Other commitments made by the government include: a ‘State of the Nation’ report every year on World Mental Health Day, starting next year, highlighting the trends and issues in young people’s mental well-being; a new school mental health support staff recruitment drive; and the launch of ‘Every Mind Matters’, a new campaign to train a million people in mental health awareness. The campaign will begin in the West Midlands, before national rollout next Spring.

As part of her speech to mark World Mental Health Day, May is expected to say: “We can end the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence. We can prevent the tragedy of suicide taking too many lives. And we can give the mental wellbeing of our children the priority it so profoundly deserves.

“I have made parity of care a priority for our long-term plan for the NHS. As a result, our record investment in the NHS will mean record investment in mental health. We are not looking after our health if we are not looking after our mental health. So we need true parity between physical and mental health – and not just in our health systems – but in our classrooms, workplaces and communities too.”

Doyle-Price said: “I understand how tragic, devastating and long-lasting the effect of suicide can be on families and communities. In my time as health minister I have met many people who have been bereaved by suicide and their stories of pain and loss will stay with me for a long time. It’s these people who need to be at the heart of what we do and I welcome this opportunity to work closely with them, as well as experts, to oversee a cross-government suicide prevention plan, making their sure their views are always heard.”

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