I like your ambition, Mr Clegg. You are certainly more ambitious than me (ambitious enough to get into bed with the Tories, against all your values and principles, for a moment of power – but that’s another story). What I mean, is your ambition for zero suicides. Of course, I want that – every person lost to suicide is one too many. That person, who takes their own life, was once someone’s precious baby, someone’s partner, someone’s potential partner, a son, a daughter, a much loved parent. Now gone. No chance to ever fill those roles again. To ever reach those goals or again feel their families’ embrace. And that is so sad, so tragic.
But what of this ambition, Mr Clegg, how do we get there? I want to hear more of these new plans but I fear that much more needs to change than the mental health provision alone.
Yes it is unacceptable that suicidal people searching for help find CRISIS helplines shut due to a lack of funding and that suicidal people brave enough to turn up at A and E, on the brink, have to wait for over 4 hours as physical needs take priority. It is wrong that people wait months to receive talking therapy, when they are already at rock bottom when they access their GP for help. So yes, mental health services provision certainly needs to improve but so does the bigger picture. What of the people driven to the edge due to welfare cuts and hopelessness of ever getting a job that takes them out of the poverty trap? The young people unable to afford university fees or find work to better themselves. The working families who feel shame at having to use food banks to stop their children going hungry as they aren’t paid a living wage.
So as I said – I like your ambition; let’s do it. Let’s reduce suicides. Let’s make the changes to mental health services you propose, but let’s not forget the context. Prevention is better than cure, as they say. Think about society, think about your manifesto for the fast approaching election with your goal of no suicides in mind. What do we need?
Society needs hope – hope of a better future. Hope of a life without poverty, with opportunities. Hope of being listened to and helped in a time of need. So I really do wish you luck with your ambition Mr Clegg and I will be watching closely.
Thank you for raising this important issue. Mental health is as important as physical health and interlinked but often overlooked.