Government announces new National Suicide Prevention Strategy

Statement / comment
11 September 2023

Today the Government announced a new National Suicide Prevention Strategy, committing to reducing the number of suicides in England within two and a half years at the very latest.

The strategy includes over 100 measures, which aim to save lives, provide early intervention, and support anyone going through the trauma of a crisis. 

Dr Rachel Gibbons, Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Patient Safety Group, said: 

“Many suicides are linked to mental illness, yet most at-risk patients are rated as no or low risk and may not be offered the mental health treatment that they need. 

“We welcome this new strategy and the government's commitment to increasing the support in England for those at risk and those bereaved by suicide.

“The focus on prevention is an important approach. We are hopeful that this new strategy will lead to greater understanding, earlier recognition and more tailored support for those who need it.

“We are pleased that the strategy supports moving away from ‘tick box’ suicide risk assessments. The strategy rightly recognises that it is important to develop a highly personalised assessment, and management of needs, risks and contexts, for each patient.

 “More must be done to both recruit and retain psychiatrists, and other mental health staff, to effectively meet the needs of patients. We are particularly pleased the government has recommended embedding our guidance to support staff who experience the trauma of a patient or colleague’s death by suicide.   

“This will help to mitigate the profound impacts on clinicians and mental health staff, which can lead to burnout and some staff leaving the profession altogether. This puts further pressure on the workforce and can lead to gaps in support for patients. 

“Over the last decade, there has been immeasurable progress in suicide prevention, driven by many bereaved by suicide who bravely and compassionately transform their pain to change the outlook for others. We hope the government commits the resources to fully implement this plan, so we can prevent even more of these avoidable deaths.” 

Suicide resources

The College provides a number of resources relating to suicide. Some are aimed at psychiatrists and others are available for patients, carers and the general public.

See our resources

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