Every case of suicide is a tragedy many times over: for the person who could see no way out; for their family and friends, often left with an intolerable burden of guilt; and also, for society as a whole in its failure to provide greater support.
I send my sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Cal Stuart, and I commend the work of the Calzy Foundation in raising awareness about suicide and sharing Cal’s story.
The NHS Long-Term Plan committed to ensuring a significant expansion of urgent and emergency mental health care and access to these services via NHS 111. NHS England specifically sought views on the creation of a separate number for mental health from patients, clinicians and commissioners implementing local services, as well as other national mental health bodies and charities.
To achieve the ambition of a single national three-digit number for mental health, stakeholders concurred that rather than creating a separate access point, the Government should seek to make the current main access points fit for purpose for people with urgent mental health needs.
Within the NHS 111 service, technical developments have been undertaken to ensure the mental health option is offered to callers at the earliest opportunity. These developments went live for those areas with Mental Health Crisis lines linked via NHS 111 in March this year, thus improving the wait time for connection to the specialist crisis mental health point of access.
Finally, in August this year, the Government relaunched a £10 million fund so charities can work with the NHS to provide life-saving suicide prevention services. Charities in communities across England can now apply for the latest round of funding from the Suicide Prevention Grant Fund which will ensure as many people as possible can access the support and prevention services they need, when they need it. Funding will also help prevent people reaching crisis point and reduce future demand for these services across both the charity sector and the NHS.