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Deputy PM pledges to reduce suicide

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Deputy PM Nick Clegg has announced new ways to commit to 'zero tolerance for suicides.'

During a Mental Health Conference today in London, Mr Clegg will call on every part of the NHS to commit to dramatically reducing the number of suicides.

The zero suicide ambition aims to change the way people are cared for in the NHS with close collaboration between GPs, other specialist providers, commissioners, public health experts and others.

Mr Clegg said: '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.'

Three areas around the UK (Liverpool, the South West and the East of England), are already pioneering ways to reduce the numbers of suicides. Mr Clegg will call on other areas to adopt these techniques to help save lives across the country.

These include keeping in touch with patients when they leave wards, having a personal safety plan for family and friends to refer to, bringing safety systems in line with treatment for physical health and joining up services so patients don't fall through the cracks.

Carol Bernard, director of commissioning and mental health nurse from Mersey Care NHS Trust, said: 'We have raised expectations for all of our health professionals by saying that we have a zero tolerance of suicide. The trust has provided training in GP practices for all primary care staff including practice nurses so that they are able to identify the signs of suicidal thoughts and are equipped to ask those difficult questions. If a practice nurse does come across a patient with suicidal tendencies, they will be able to refer them to the suicide prevention team for an assessment to provide them with targeted help.

'It is still too early to see a reduction but we are confident that this will happen within the time frame we have set.'

Care and support minister Norman Lamb said: 'Suicide is not inevitable for people in crisis and these deaths can be prevented with the right care. Three areas have this vision already and are doing incredible things to improve and importantly to save lives. I want every part of the health service to be as ambitious.'

Labour leader, Ed Miliband has also committed to a radical improvement in mental health provision focusing on child mental health. Mr Miliband has launched a report by an independent taskforce to improve mental health care. The report's recommendations include improving waiting times for talking therapies and ensuring all school pupils have access to a counsellor.

This follows a string of increased funding and provision for both children's and adult's mental health provision from the political parties in the lead up to the election.

Almost 4700 people died by suicide in 2013 in England. Almost 3700 of these people were men, with suicide remaining one of the biggest killers for men under 50.

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