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Early identification and effective action vital to help prevent suicide

11 September 2017

The British Psychological Society publishes its call to action on how best to identify and support those at risk of suicide.

Suicide is preventable. Early identification and effective action are key to ensuring people get the care they need.

This is one of the calls to action the British Psychological Society has announced in its new position statement “Understanding and preventing suicide: A psychological perspective” following World Suicide Prevention Day.

Professor Rory O’Connor (University of Glasgow) Chair of the working group who produced the position statement said:

“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.”

As well as calling for more Government investment into public mental health interventions and research in to psychosocial interventions solutions the BPS urges the Governments across the UK to ensure that those discharged from hospital, following self-harm or a suicide attempt, receive a follow-up appointment within three days.

Professor O’Connor added:

“It’s unacceptable that over 5,688 people in the UK died by suicide in 2016. Despite this suicide and suicide prevention research receive nowhere near the level of financial investment they need. Understanding the thoughts behind suicidal thinking and the factors that lead to people acting on their thoughts of suicide is vital to the development and implementation of effective prevention and intervention techniques.”

Our calls to action also include:

  • Individuals attending hospital following self-harm should be received by staff with compassion and understanding.
  • Improved training and education in health, social care and educational settings needed to understand better the barriers in asking for help.
  • The Royal College of General Practitioners should consider the development and introduction of mandatory GP training on identifying signs and symptoms of suicide ideation/behaviour; and appropriate referrals/immediate support.
  • Education departments across the UK should develop appropriate psychologically informed curricula content for children and young people.
  • UK Research and Innovation should establish increased funding for research into the causes of suicide and trials into suicide prevention, especially in vulnerable groups. 


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