Suicide happens. We need to talk about it.

I want to applaud the personal story of Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive at SCIE (Remembering Adrian) for her courage in sharing her story today, the day the Office of National Statistics published the worrying news that suicide numbers increased 8% in 2011 across the UK (and shockingly 30% in Wales).

My mum took her own life in 2009. Like Andrea Sutcliffe though, I refuse to allow this to be our family’s dirty secret. Instead, I believe that in order to positively influence the work of care and support services, that it is vital to be able to talk about suicides such that we can learn lessons and look to improve. It is also absolutely critical that suicide is spoken about more openly in order to challenge public opinions. People need to recognise that suicides do happen. And that they will continue to happen, often in the most tragic and preventable of ways, if people aren’t willing to talk about mental health problems, suicide ideation and even death. So I wish to thank Andrea, and the others who are willing to bring a name and human dimension to the statistics and the word ‘suicide’.

I hope that given these new suicide statistics from the ONS that Clinical Commissioning Boards will seek to prioritise suicide prevention work and help to ensure that the National Suicide Prevention Strategy moves beyond policy. I hope too that the care providers SCIE works with will never underestimate the devasting impact that every suicide has.