The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness has published its annual report, highlighting a downward trend in suicides among people in touch with mental health services.
Despite many improvements, statistics continue to paint a concerning picture in relation to people being seen by crisis teams at home.
The report shows that:
- There were 1,538 cases of suicide by people in touch with mental health services in the UK in 2015, the figure having fallen in recent years. Recent ONS findings show cases of suicide among the general population appear to be decreasing in England and Wales, too.
- In England, suicides by people being seen by crisis team teams at home fell from 206 to 186, but this figure remains significantly higher than those in in-patient care. In Wales this figure rose from 68 to 72.
- Suicides by mental health in-patients continues to fall, but the long term downward trend has slowed from 39 per cent in the five-year period following 2005 to 10 per cent in the five-year period following 2010. The report recommends a renewed emphasis on suicide prevention on in-patient wards in order to speed up progress in this area.
Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Mind, the mental health charity, said:
“It is encouraging to see from recent national statistics that suicides in England and Wales may be declining, and that this report highlights particular progress when it comes to people in touch with mental health services, but we need to ensure that these are the beginnings of much longer-term trends. Across the UK, we lose almost 6,000 lives a year to suicide and every one is a tragedy, so despite these positive findings it is clear that we still have a long way to go.
“Although there has been a fall in the number of suicides of people being seen by crisis teams at home, the fact that people in the care of these services are still up to three times more likely to take their own life than in other settings is extremely worrying. It’s unacceptable that anybody who is already in touch with services should reach this point.
“We know that people recently discharged from hospital after a mental health crisis are especially vulnerable and at high risk of suicide, so we welcome that this report reiterates its advice from 2016 for follow-up within three days of leaving hospital after a mental health crisis. It’s also important that people being discharged from hospital are involved in proper planning around their ongoing care, and that no one is sent out of area to hospitals away from the support of friends and family because of local bed pressures. Services need to be adequately resourced so that people in crisis can get urgent help, close to home, and the right support to recover.
“The Government’s five year plan for improving mental health care in England has rightly put suicide prevention as a key patient safety issue for the NHS. It’s vital that this plan is delivered and that funding reaches the front line so that services can respond effectively. In Wales, the Welsh Government’s suicide and self-harm reduction strategy, Talk to Me 2, aims to reduce the suicide and self-harm rates in Wales and every area in Wales has a local plan to actively reduce the number of people taking their own lives. Too many families lose loved ones every year and in so many cases such tragedies can be prevented.”