Worrying rise in suicide rates

For those of us working in frontline mental health services it is extremely worrying to see a rise in suicide rates in the UK for the first time in five years.

According to figures published recently by the Office for National Statistics, there were a total of 6,507 suicides registered by coroners in the UK last year; that is equivalent to 11.2 per 100,000 people – up 11.8 per cent on the previous year.

In 2018, the East of England had a suicide rate of 17.6 per 100,000 population for males and 5.4 per 100,000 for females.

Every suicide is a tragedy and devastating for families and friends; however, suicide is often preventable and more must be done to make sure this increase is not the beginning of a more sinister trend.

Demand for mental health care has been rapidly rising for a number years, but frontline services have not seen the investment so vitally needed in order to keep pace.

It is shameful that in the 21st century patients are being failed by reduced services and longer waits for treatments, while frontline mental health staff continue to placed under more and more pressure.

This situation is not tenable for much longer.

While there has been some recent focus on suicide prevention strategies, there must be a greater focus on improving public mental health in the UK, with more investment for local services. A life-course approach is required, ensuring support for mental health during childhood, education, employment and into later life.

It must now finally be time for kind words from health leaders to become actions- parity of resources and care, not of esteem.

Dr Andrew Molodynski, BMA consultants committee mental health lead