Suicide is preventable and it is unacceptable that 4820 people died by suicide in England in 2015. Men, particularly those under the age of 49, are most at risk of suicide, but the rising rates of suicide by women and those in the criminal justice system are extremely worrying.
Professor Peter Kinderman, BPS President, welcomes the Government’s announcement of increased funding for mental health but stated that:
“No civilised and caring society should tolerate this level of despair, hopelessness and avoidable tragedy. The early identification of suicidal thoughts and behaviour, and effective care for those of us at risk, are crucial in ensuring people receive the care they need and deserve. Action at an early stage is core to any strategy for suicide prevention. Understanding the psychological processes underlying suicidal thinking and ideation and the factors leading to suicide behaviour are vital to enabling effective prevention and intervention techniques. This includes understanding the social factors leading to a sense of hopelessness and despair, and understanding how we as individuals make sense of and respond to challenges in our lives.
Psychologists have made significant contributions to our understanding of the interconnected nature of the causes of suicidal behaviour. Whilst there has been some progress made in tackling stigma and discrimination there is still considerable work to be done. Improved training and education are needed to understand better the barriers in asking for help. This requires increased investment to support it and expert psychological input to ensure it is appropriately designed and delivered."
Professor Kinderman endorses the Select Committee’s recommendation that individuals at risk undergo a psychosocial risk assessment and those discharged from hospital receive a follow-up appointment within three days. He also welcomes the Select Committee’s recommendation for enhanced support for people bereaved by suicide, and the strengthening Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code on the reporting and discussion of suicides.
Professor Kinderman concluded:
“Prevention and early intervention is fundamental to suicide prevention. There is a particular need to focus more on prevention. The Government must ensure investment in research into public mental health interventions and research into innovative brief psychosocial interventions (employing a range of delivery methods and modalities) to reduce suicidal ideation, suicidal behaviours and deaths by suicide."