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11 Sep 2023

SANE responds to National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England

A new Suicide Prevention Strategy for England has been launched by the government.

The strategy features pledges to aid specific groups at risk of suicide, including children and young people, middle-aged men, autistic people, pregnant women, and new mothers. Among the measures being taken will be a national alert system to combat emerging methods of suicide and refreshed guidance for first responders.

Marjorie Wallace, SANE founder and chief executive, commented: “SANE welcomes this comprehensive and ambitious strategy. We have been very concerned that over the years, the percentage of callers to our helpline talking about suicide – whether ideation or plans – has steadily increased so that now over half of all calls mention suicide or self-harm.

“We believe that more than a third of suicides could be prevented if people were given help and treatment before they reached crisis point. However, there are long delays in people at risk receiving help at an early enough stage.


“Many of those who reach crisis point do not receive a timely or effective response. We answer many distressed callers who have tried to contact their crisis lines, only to find there is no reply, or that they are answered by untrained co-ordinators.

“There are still far too few crisis beds available, and where someone is able to access inpatient care, they may not receive a follow-up within the recommended 72 hours, despite this group being at the highest risk of suicide.

“With psychiatric services in many places struggling to cope with demand, it is paramount that resources are made available to back up the plans set out in this strategy, so that professional support can be made available to those at risk of suicide.”

Early intervention

Since the previous suicide prevention strategy for England was published in 2012, the government says considerable progress has been made in implementing the priorities and actions that were set out.

More than 100 measures are outlined in the strategy aimed at saving lives, providing early intervention and supporting anyone going through the trauma of a crisis. This includes:

  • a new national alert system to notify relevant authorities – such as schools, universities, and charities – of emerging methods of suicides and risks, and any required actions that can reduce access or limit awareness
  • fresh guidance issued to first responders, recognising new and emerging methods, and how such incidents should be dealt with
  • near real-time surveillance of trends in tragic suicides to be introduced on a national scale this year – enabling more timely and targeted actions
  • a government pledge to collaborate with countries around the world to target and stop suppliers of dangerous and lethal substances at the source.

The Suicide Prevention Strategy for England: 2023 to 2028 is here.

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