This week saw the publication of the Department of Health and Social Care's new 'Cross-government suicide prevention plan'.

The newly-appointed Minister for Suicide Prevention Jackie Doyle-Price has outlined intentions to explore how latest technology – such as predictive analytics and artificial intelligence – could help identify those at risk of suicide. The Government has also committed to improving data on suicide and other causes of death of veterans, tracking progress of suicide reduction.

In the first ever plan of its kind, the Government will commit to improving data held on causes of death among veterans, protecting those more at risk and better understanding the triggers that can lead someone to take their own life, such as debt and gambling addiction.

More focus will also be given to addressing the increase in suicide and self-harm among young people while social media companies will also be asked to take more responsibility for harmful online content which illustrates and promotes methods of suicide and self-harm, in support of the Government’s efforts to address this in its upcoming Online Harms White Paper. 

Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Jackie Doyle-Price said:

“As a society we need to do everything we can to support vulnerable and at-risk people, as well as those in crisis, and give them the help they desperately need.

“I will be working with local councils, the NHS and the justice system to make sure suicide prevention plans are put in place across public services. Together, we will do everything in our power to meet our ambition to reduce suicides by at least 10% by 2020 – and I look forward to working collaboratively with social media and tech companies to help achieve our ambitions.”

Simon Blake, Chief Executive, Mental Health First Aid England commented: 

“We very much welcome the ambitious plans announced today by the government to tackle the alarming rate of suicide in this country. Suicide is preventable but it requires joined up thinking, combining the latest advances in technology to identify those most at risk with the people skills needed to support a person who is suicidal. 

“Embedding mental health first aid skills into every workplace would be a powerful addition to the government’s proposals and should be considered a vital part of a whole systems approach to saving lives. That’s why we are calling on the government to change the law so that First Aid protects the mental and physical health of every employee in England and moves us one step closer to parity of esteem in the workplace.”

The full plan can be read here: