As the Government reorganises the delivery of public health, with a particular focus on infectious disease, it is of the utmost importance that the focus on suicide prevention is not lost
Much of this work takes place at local authority level, through councils’ suicide prevention plans, supported by Public Health England.
Additionally, Public Health England currently helps to ensure that funding for suicide prevention has the greatest impact possible, and co-ordinates the national public health response to suicide prevention.
It is vital that this work is maintained, and that there is renewed focus on groups with an increased risk of suicide, including middle-aged men, especially at a time of economic recession which can exacerbate the risk factors for this group. The Government’s plans for where responsibility for this will now sit are not yet clear, but as we enter recession there must be no backwards steps in terms of suicide prevention.
We are pleased that the Government has committed to consult on its forthcoming plans but this must draw on the expertise of all those who are involved in suicide prevention, including the many voluntary sector organisations working in communities across the country to support people’s mental wellbeing. The Government must ensure strong national leadership, accountability and investment in suicide prevention and public mental health.
The impact of the pandemic on the nation’s emotional wellbeing will take some time to play out, but we know that many people have struggled with issues of mental health during this time. The Government cannot afford to lose sight of these long-term impacts: it must ensure that mental wellbeing Is at the heart of our national recovery.