British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday appointed the country’s first minister for suicide prevention.
Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price will take on the new role, which will require leading efforts to reduce suicide prevention and eliminate the stigma that some feel when seeking help. In Britain, 4,500 people commit suicide each year and it’s the leading cause of death for men under 45.
“The Minister will lead a new national effort on suicide prevention, bringing together a ministerial task force and working with national and local government, experts in suicide and self-harm prevention, charities, clinicians and those personally affected by suicide,” the British government said in a news release.
May also said the government will pledge £1.8 million ($2.4 million) to the Samaritans charity to pay for a free helpline for the next four years.
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“We can end the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence. We can prevent the tragedy of suicide taking too many lives. And we can give the mental well-being of our children the priority it so profoundly deserves,” May said in a statement.
British health experts applauded the move, but some said it falls short of what is required to provide adequate mental health services
“This failure of psychiatric services has huge social and economic implications,” Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity Sane, told the BBC. “Two years ago, Theresa May announced a comprehensive plan to tackle the ‘hidden injustice’ of mental illness in our country, yet in recent weeks there have been disturbing reports that people are being detained in police cells for up to six days for the lack of NHS beds, children referred to specialist services being turned away and lives being damaged due to long waits to get treatment.”