HC Deb 01 December 2003 vol 415 cc11-2W
Charles Hendry

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps his Department is taking to reduce instances of suicide and deliberate self-harm in young people; and if he will make a statement; [140637]

(2) what steps his Department is taking to raise public awareness of suicide and deliberate self-harm in young people; [140638]

(3) what guidance his Department issues to (a) parents, (b) young people and (c) organisations working with young people on (i) suicide and (ii) deliberate self-harm in young people. [140659]

Ms Rosie Winterton

The National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England recognises that people who self-harm are at a greater risk of taking their own life; and sets out specific action to reduce the number of suicides in the year following deliberate self harmguidance on the management of deliberate self-harm in accident and emergency departments is due for publication by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence in 2004; the establishment of a national collaborative for the monitoring of deliberate self-harm through which it will be possible to estimate the number of suicides in the year following deliberate self-harm; the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) will support local services in establishing procedures and services for people presenting at accident and emergency departments with deliberate self-harm; a risk assessment-training package will be made available by NIMHE to frontline clinical staff, the prison service, primary care, substance misuse services and college counselling services. This package is currently being piloted.

In addition, NIMHE published an audit toolkit in October 2003 to help services measure the extent to which they are addressing the recommendations outlined in the National Confidential Inquiry Report into suicide and homicide by people with a mental illness—Safer Services; two of which relate specifically to self-harm.

NIMHE continues to raise awareness about mental health issues, including suicide and self-harm through its programme of work to implement the suicide prevention strategy. In addition, the mind out for mental health campaign which combats stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health specifically targets young people in the provision of accurate information on mental health issues. In February 2003 the campaign launched Read the Signs—educating young people aged 14–21 about the signs of mental health problems so that they are better informed and can look out for themselves and their friends. This campaign includes an interactive website which provides information on suicide and deliberate self-harm and signposts individuals to further information or support and advice.

The Department and NIMHE also continue to work with and support other organisations to promote information and advice on the incidence of suicide and self-harm among young people.

The suicide prevention strategy also specifically identified young men as being at particular risk of suicide. NIMHE is establishing a small number of sites in England which will develop a package of mental health promotion measures to successfully engage with young men. We hope to announce the location of the successful pilot sites early in the New Year. In addition, the "Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)" campaign and helpline continues to provide a safety net for young men by breaking down the barriers and reducing the stigma attached to depression and mental illness. CALM is currently operational in four areas: Manchester, Merseyside, Cumbria and Bedfordshire.

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