NHS trusts accused of offering too little for people at risk of suicide

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Lives could be saved if people at risk of suicide were given more support by NHS trusts, a new report has found.

The help offered to people who could take their own lives has been criticised by NHS Resolution, which handles compensation claims lodged by families following the death of loved ones.

The organisation said it found there was “poor support” for people with substance misuse problems and inadequate communication with patients and families in a report published on World Suicide Prevention Day.

NHS Resolution has made nine recommendations for NHS trusts and national bodies to highlight potential lessons for those delivering mental health services.

Dr Alice Oates, the report’s author, said: “We found that, generally, there was poor support for those with substance misuse problems, inadequate communication with patients and families, and a lack of a range of services to support individuals.”

Dr Adrian James, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, added: “The report highlights some important areas for attention that could help to reduce suicides. The focus on substance misuse is welcomed.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said £25m had been provided to ensure every local area had a suicide prevention plan in place.

A spokeswoman said: “We must make the most of every opportunity to learn from experience and embed a culture of learning in the NHS, so patients at risk are given the care they deserve.”

Meanwhile, more than 130 broadcasters, actors, politicians, and writers have called on the media to lead the way in changing how suicide is talked about.

They signed an open letter to editors which praises changes in the way suicide has been covered in recent years, but said there was still a way to go.

The letter, signed by broadcasters Stephen Fry, Fearne Cotton and Zoe Ball, urges news outlets to avoid speculation about the causes of suicide. The letter has been backed by cross-party MPs, as well as the Samaritans and the mental health charity Mind.

The letter says: “There is a huge job to be done to educate the public, to tackle taboos, to break down stereotypes, to report and comment on suicide in a responsible manner. We hope that you will play your part.”

The letter was put together by mental health campaigners Bryony Gordon and MP Luciana Berger.

As part of World Suicide Prevention Day, a new support group has been launched in York to help overcome the social isolation facing those who have lost loved ones.

Alex Sutcliffe, of Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) York, said: “I am immensely proud to be able to set up this local group with two friends, also bereaved by suicide, to help those suffering.”

Elsewhere, council bosses in Leeds are offering grants to community projects in parts of the city with high suicide rates.

People in the city backing the national awareness day including former Leeds Rhinos player Luke Ambler, whose brother-in-law Andy Roberts took his own life in 2016.

Following his death, Mr Ambler launched Andy’s Man Club – where men can meet to support each other with mental health issues.

He said: “Our family were devastated when we lost Andy and we still are. He was the inspiration for setting up the club, so that no one ever has to go through what we have.”