To help meet the increased demand from the pandemic, the government has funded £5 million to services to prevent suicide, including charities, NHS and social care staff, and high-risk groups
The government’s £5 million fund to support the Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector on suicide prevention services will further support high risk groups, including children, young people, and people with pre-existing mental health conditions.
According to the Samaritans charity, 4912 people died by suicide in 2020 in the UK. This is 404 suicides fewer than in 2019, however, the government accounts this for the lack of services collecting data during the height of the pandemic.
Suicide continues to effect men more than women across the UK, as the male suicide rate for was 15.3 per 100,000 compared to the female suicide rate of 4.9 per 100,000 people. Males aged 45-49 continue to have the highest suicide rate at 23.8 per 100,000 people.
Therfore, to reduce this number people experiencing suicidal thoughts or approaching a crisis are to be supported by a £5 million fund towards suicide prevention charities.
The suicide prevention Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector saw an increase in the number of individuals seeking support in 2020. Some services saw up to 20% more contacts over the last year, compared to previous years.
One in five adults in the UK experienced depression during national lockdown
To tackle the increased pressures on mental health services, £4 million of the grant fund is to open next week for applications from VCSE organisations that support suicide prevention.
The other £1 million of the funding has been set aside to support existing and ongoing voluntary sector suicide prevention programmes.
The support will additionally be given to the NHS and social care staff who have dealt with pressure during COVID-19. It will also give support to people in contact with the criminal justice system.
In 2021 the government published the latest progress report against the National Suicide Prevention Strategy, the workplan against suicide included measures such as:
- Introducing more 24/7 all-age crisis services, so anybody requiring urgent support could access those services rapidly any time
- Including more emotional, psychological, and practical support for NHS staff, available online, including a specific helpline and text service for counselling and support
Providing organisations with an additional resource to set up new projects or expand on current services
Minister for Mental Health, Gillian Keegan, said: “I know the last 18 months have been really challenging and many more people have been asking for help with their mental health. I want to be clear: we are here to support anyone struggling – and if you need help, I encourage you to reach out.
“The entire suicide prevention voluntary sector has played a crucial role in providing people with the help and support they need throughout the pandemic and I encourage them to apply for this funding so we can continue to support our communities.”
Other suicide prevention methods have been undertaken, including the Mental Health Recovery Action Plan, backed by £500 million aims to ensure support is given to people with a variety of mental health conditions who have been impacted most by the pandemic.
As well as this, a further £10.2 million was already given to mental health charities during the pandemic, so this additional funding is set to guarantee that suicide prevention organisations can continue to provide support to all those who need it.
To help support small community groups, over £200,000 of the grant funding will also be secured, as these play a vital role in responding to local needs.
Ensuring people are supported
Professor Louis Appleby, Advisor to the Government on the National Suicide Prevention Strategy, said: “The response of suicide prevention charities to the pandemic has been nothing short of outstanding. They were among the first to respond to the distress that many have felt.
“They have worked tirelessly to support people who are anxious, isolated or at risk. They have been an invaluable partner to the NHS.”
“All this has stretched their resources to the limit, at a time when fund-raising from the public has been harder. This grant funding opportunity is in recognition of the contribution they have made.”
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