Nick Clegg calls for new ambition for zero suicides across the NHS

The Deputy Prime Minister hosts a major Mental Health Conference today to discuss the future of mental health services in England.

On Monday 19 January the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will host a major Mental Health Conference, bringing together leading clinicians, policy makers and campaign groups to discuss the future of mental health services in England.

At the conference, which will be co-hosted by the Minister of State for Care and Support Norman Lamb, the Deputy Prime Minister will call on all NHS trusts to commit to a new ambition for ‘zero suicides’ in order to dramatically reduce suicides in our health service. This ambition has already been adopted in some areas with Mersey Care in Liverpool, South West England and East of England all making the commitment.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“Suicide is, and always has been, a massive taboo in our society. People are genuinely scared to talk about it, never mind intervene when they believe a loved one is at risk.

“That’s why I’m issuing a call to every part of the NHS to commit to a new ambition for zero suicides. We already know that this kind of approach can work in dramatically reducing suicides.

“This isn’t about blame. It is doing more in every area of our society to ensure that people don’t get to that point where they believe taking their own life is their only option.

The Deputy Prime Minister will lift the lid on the last taboo in mental health – suicide. Most people think that suicides are inevitable, not preventable. As the Samaritans say: the majority of people who feel suicidal don’t actually want to die.

Suicides can be prevented, together we need to create a culture in our country where everyone can talk about their mental health problems without fear, embarrassment or judgement.

Today the Deputy Prime Minister will signal a whole new way of working to prevent people from taking their own lives.

He is calling for every part of the NHS to commit to a new ambition for ‘zero suicides’ to dramatically reduce the number of people taking their own lives. We know this kind of approach can work in dramatically reducing suicides. A mental health programme in Detroit, USA, which signed up to a ‘zero suicide’ commitment has reported that nobody in the care of their depression services has taken their own life in over 2 years.

In the UK, pioneering health workers in Liverpool, the South West and in the East of England are already re-thinking how they care for people with mental health conditions to achieve this ambition for ‘zero suicides’ in our own health service. The Deputy Prime Minister will call on the health service to look at this work being done by these 3 pioneering areas. Adopting these approaches across the country could save thousands of lives.

Almost 4,700 people died by suicide in 2013 in England – almost 3,700 (78%) of those people were men, with suicide remaining one of the biggest killers for men under the age of 50.

The ‘zero suicide’ ambition is about changing how people who are in NHS care are treated so that they are not forgotten when they move or leave the service they have been in. All of this will be done in close collaboration with GPs, other specialist providers, commissioners, public health experts and others.

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