News ID: 232585
Published: 0420 GMT October 10, 2018

UK prime minister appoints world’s first minister for prevention of suicide

UK prime minister appoints world’s first minister for prevention of suicide

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May has, for the first time in the world, appointed a minister to prevent suicide as reports show more and more people are taking their lives in Britain over mental health problems.

May appointed Jackie Doyle-Price to the newly created post of mental health, inequalities and suicide prevention minister as representatives of 50 countries gathered in London Wednesday for a mental health summit.  

May also earmarked a budget of 1.8 million pounds ($2.4 million) to help the Samaritans' helpline, a confidential 24/7 freephone service, expand its consultation services to people grappling with mental health issues, Presstv Reported.

“We can end the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence. We can prevent the tragedy of suicide taking too many lives,” she said.

Doyle-Price, a conservative member of the British parliament, is supposed to work with experts in suicide and self-harm prevention, charities, clinicians and those personally affected by suicide in the new ministerial task force.

The official said the new ministry would do its utmost to reduce the number of suicide deaths in Britain, especially with regards to young people.

“In my time as health minister I have met many people who have been bereaved by suicide and their stories of pain and loss will stay with me for a long time,” she said.

"It's these people who need to be at the heart of what we do ... making their sure their views are always heard.”

The appointment of a suicide prevention minister met with welcoming remarks, especially among those who have for years demanded better government response to increasing mental health problems among the British population.

However, the opposition Labour Party said the new measure was in fact meant to offset government’s austerity programs over the past years which had affected the mental health services.

“Mental health services are still being underfunded by the Conservative government,” said Barbara Keeley, Labour’s mental health spokeswoman, adding, “A focus on suicide prevention is long overdue given the appalling increase in suicide rates since 2010.”

The number of suicide deaths in England is believed to be around 4,500 each year. Reports have suggested many patients with psychological problems should wait for months and even a year to receive proper consultation or treatment.

May appointed Tracey Crouch as "minister for loneliness "in January to tackle modern public health problems associated with social isolation affecting millions of people in the UK.



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