The Conservatives have announced the creation of the position of Minister of State for Suicide Prevention within the Department of Health and Social Care, appointing MP for Thurrock Jackie Doyle-Price as the inaugural minister to fill the role.

Speaking yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that while he was encouraged by progress in reducing suicide rates, more needed to be done to challenge the “tragedy” and “stigma” surrounding suicide.

Jackie Doyle-Price added: “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.

“It’s these people who need to be at the heart of what we do and I welcome this opportunity to work closely with them, as well as experts, to oversee a cross-government suicide prevention plan, making their sure their views are always heard.”

While the move has been praised by many, including Samaritans, who said that the announcement was an excellent show of the Government’s “commitment to preventing suicide,” Papyrus – Prevention of Young Suicide – warmly but cautiously welcome the news.

In a statement, the charity said that they looked forward to working with the minister, having “fought long and hard for this government to take suicide seriously,” they said they want to see a larger focus on suicide as the leading cause of death in young people between the ages of 10 to 34.

Cheif executive Ged Flynn said: “The Prime Minister cannot seriously claim that the UK now holds mental and physical health in equal esteem. Parity of esteem is way off whilst we hear every day on HOPELINEUK that our young people are often left waiting for lengthy periods for proper, professional mental health support even at the point of suicidal crisis.”

“Thus far, too little has been done to demonstrate a real commitment to saving young lives despite our continued campaigns to work with government to end stigma. For example, the Ministry of Justice has failed miserably in accepting the widely held view that the State perpetuates stigma by demanding the criminal standard of proof in reaching a conclusion of suicide at inquest. We are still waiting for a position from HM Government after a seven-year-long campaign led by PAPYRUS.”

Image: Flickr/Luke Detwiler

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