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Suicide - a national crisis

It’s time to face a harsh truth - the UK is facing an urgent public health crisis. Suicide statistics are significantly on the rise and the need for mental health care has never been more critical. It has been widely reported that suicides have risen to a 16-year high across the UK as the Office for National Statistics releases disquieting data in its 2018 Suicide Report.

As the planning process for our November 25th event picks up speed, the need to improve mental health support and awareness in workplaces has become increasingly evident as highlighted by this new data. In response we’ve created a suicide session to help companies work on strategies to identify colleagues at risk and step in to offer help.

The session will be chaired by Neil Peters, Strategic Programme Manager at leading suicide prevention charity, the Samaritans and the panel will include David Hammond, Patent Attorney at law firm Haseltine Lake Kempner; Amandip Sidhu, Founder of Doctors in Distress and Graham McCartney, Trustee at the charity Jonathan’s Voice.

Media outlets have been reporting on the growing suicide crisis, informing us that after 5 years of decline, the rate of suicide in the UK has reached its highest point in 16 years. The Office for National Statistics report states that 6,507 suicides were registered in 2018 – a 12% rise from 2017 and the highest rate since 2002.

Although the report cannot expose exact reasons for this spike, experts have shared various opinions about the worrying figures including relationship breakdowns, work and school pressure and concerns about appearance in young people. NHS delays are also cited as a factor as many of those seeking help with their mental health are sitting on “hidden waiting lists” which can often lead to an 8 week wait to see a doctor again after an initial appointment.

Further distressing points highlighted in the report include:

  • Suicide rates in under 25s have increased
  • The greatest risk is among divorced men
  • 50% of people do not tell their doctor if they feel depressed

Samaritans Chief Executive Ruth Sutherland urged that suicide is “a serious public health issue” and is “not inevitable” and that connecting vulnerable people with mental health services must become a priority.

The government has pledged increased funding to pave the way for a transformation in mental health services. Employers must think outside the box to innovate and move forward with their mental health support for staff, ensuring that every employee is aware of available support and has someone to turn to when they are struggling.

Every suicide is a tragedy and we must continue promoting recognition of the issue alongside mental health awareness in order to combat the rise of these preventable deaths. With our This Can Happen suicide session we’ll be opening the floor to ideas and implementation strategies from expert speakers  aimed at educating employers on how to ensure every measure is taken in workplaces to decrease the risk of suicide among staff.

If you would like to join the discussion, book your place at This Can Happen 2019.

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This Can Happen has truly helped to move the needle on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, providing access to exceptional speakers, innovative ideas and practical solutions for how businesses can work together with staff, customers and broader stakeholders to ensure that everyone can thrive at work and be fully supported with any mental health challenges they may face.

Sarah Boddey, Senior VP, Northern Trust