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U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May Appoints a Suicide Prevention Minister

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On Wednesday, in an effort to expand the U.K.’s mental health services and reduce the suicide rate, Prime Minister Theresa May appointed a new minister for suicide prevention. The role will be filled by Jackie Doyle-Price, who has served as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health and Inequalities since 2017.

“We can end the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence,” May said of the commitment to mental health during a London reception on World Mental Health Day. “We can prevent the tragedy of suicide taking too many lives. And we can give the mental well-being of our children the priority it so profoundly deserves.”

Like in other countries, the suicide rate in the U.K. remains significant despite drops in recent years. Access to care remains a huge barrier in the country’s suicide prevention efforts in addition to the stigma of seeking help. Additional resources are needed to increase access to mental health treatment that goes beyond a one-size-fits-all strategy. Doyle-Price’s position will work to find solutions to these issues.

Earlier this year, May appointed Tracey Couch as the Minister of Loneliness in another effort to support the country’s mental health. A report published on Tuesday by the National Audit Office found that the U.K. was still struggling to deliver mental health services, especially to young people. May’s new announcement also came with the promise of significant funding for Samaritans, Britain’s suicide hotline, as well as mental health programs in schools.

“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,” Doyle-Price said in a statement following the announcement of her appointment. “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.”

Originally published: October 10, 2018
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