Suicides decline to lowest rate ever

Suicide has fallen to its lowest level on record but the compulsory community treatment measures proposed in the Mental Health Bill are needed to reduce the numbers further, the government has claimed.

A report by the National Institute for Mental Health in England, a delivery arm of the Department of Health, shows the rate of suicides has fallen from 9.2 to 8.5 deaths per 100,000 people from 1995-7 to 2003-5. The government hopes to reduce the level to 7.3 deaths by 2009-11.

There have also been falls in the number of suicides among target groups – young men, mental health in-patients and prisoners – the report says. But the DH said more needed to be done to reduce the number of suicides among in-patients discharged from hospital and those who were non-compliant with treatment. It said the community treatment orders in the bill, which was debated for the first time in the Commons on Monday, will “improve clinical risk management”, for such patients.

However, Mind’s policy director Sophie Corlett said the claim was “at best misleading”. She added: “People are routinely turned away from over-stretched mental health services.”

The House of Lords amended the bill to limit CTOs only to so-called revolving-door patients who would otherwise be in and out of hospital.

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  Simeon Brody

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