Lib Dems announce campaign for NHS to set ‘zero suicide’ goal
Labour also calls for more funds for child mental health as parties launch policies on so-called Blue Monday.
Nick Clegg on the Andrew Marr Show. He is promising to sign the NHS up to a national ‘zero suicide’ campaign. Labour and the Liberal Democrats will on Monday launch initiatives on mental health, with Nick Clegg promising to sign up the NHS to a national “zero suicide” campaign while Ed Miliband highlights the need to switch more NHS spending on mental health to children. The deputy prime minister will say that every part of the NHS in England should sign up to eliminate suicides in an attempt to cut the death toll of nearly 4,700 people a year, the majority of whom are men.
Some organisations in Merseyside, the east of England and the south-west have already adapted methods from a programme to combat depression in Detroit, in the US, where suicides were sharply reduced from 89 per 100,000 in 2001 to as low as zero among the patient population over the decade. Now the coalition government will appeal for the NHS, charities and voluntary organisations elsewhere to follow suit.
Both parties have timed their mental health policy launches to coincide with Blue Monday – a marketing invention based on a bogus equation to calculate supposedly the most depressing day of the year. The decision will be controversial because Blue Monday’s media profile has been blamed for trivialising depression. Clegg is hosting a mental health conference at the offices of the King’s Fund health thinktank, at which he will say: “Suicide is, and always has been, a massive taboo in our society. People are genuinely scared to talk about it, never mind intervene when they believe a loved one is at risk. “That’s why I’m issuing a call to every part of the NHS to commit to a new ambition for zero suicides. We already know that this kind of approach can work in dramatically reducing suicides.”