Government promises self-harm statistics from local hospitals

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Hospitals are to publish yearly figures on the number of people attending A&E for self-harm and whether they get the right help.

Around 300,000 visits are thought to be made to A&E departments in England every year for cases of self-harm.

Figures suggest that around half the 4,500 people who commit suicide every year have a history of hurting themselves. Evidence shows that people with suicidal thoughts or those who have self-harmed are less likely to try to kill or harm themselves if they undergo psychological assessments.

In one study, patients receiving a psychological assessment had a 40 per cent lower chance of self-harming again.

The announcement, from the Department of Health, is set out in the Suicide Prevention Strategy for England - One Year On Update, and comes ahead of a speech on mental health on Monday by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

The strategy is intended to provide a picture of self-harm across the country and establish whether people are receiving psychological assessments.

Among the local work highlighted is that of the Leeds Bereavement Forum, which has produced a short document with details of local and national support services available for people in the city bereaved by suicide or another traumatic death.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said: “Self-harm is a sign of serious emotional distress and it is crucial that people receive the support and care they need to address the underlying issues causing the urge to self-harm.

“But, too often, people who self-harm experience negative attitudes and lack of knowledge from staff. We are determined to stamp out the stigma and negative attitudes surrounding mental health.

“That’s why for the first time hospitals will publish figures on people who self-harm. This is vital to get a better picture of the scale of the problem and to allow the NHS to ensure people who self-harm get the right help and support.”

Under the announcement, families who are concerned that a relative may be at risk of suicide will also be offered greater support.

A joint statement between the Government and organisations such as regulators and Royal colleges has been agreed to to promote greater sharing of information on suicide risk.

Mr Lamb said: “Family and friends of loved ones who are having suicidal thoughts are often the first to notice when something is not right.

“We have heard from families bereaved by suicide that they feel there is sometimes more they felt they could do.

“Health professionals can be understandably worried about whether to share information - this will make sure they can be confident listening and talking to families to make sure patients get the right support.”

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