Perhaps most devastating of all is the figure that over 200 school age children each year are currently lost to suicide. This is a damning indictment of devastating NHS de-funding and privatisation and 9 years of austerity by this Conservative Government.
Campaigners and activists gathered outside Parliament today on World Suicide Prevention Day, to lay out 200 pairs of children's shoes to highlight the tragedy, a tragedy that is shocking but not surprising I light of the Government's attitude to publicly provided healthcare in this country.
Cathy Augustine, member of the Keep Our NHS Public Exec, at the Stop the Suicide Crisis protest, exlaining why it's so important to get to the Mental Health Crisis Summit on Saturday 28 September.
The protest was supported by Jonathan Ashworth MP Shadow Secretary for Health and Barbara Keeley MP Labour's Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health, as well as Childcare Worker and Community activist Valerie Bossman-Quarshie, Tom Lock Griffiths, Wendy Savage and Dr Louise Irvine from Keep our NHS Public and Rachel Bannister from Mental Health Time for Action.
In a powerful article on Keep Our NHS Public yesterday, NHS Campaigner Dr Mona Kamal wrote,
Surely there is no greater indictment of the despair and alienation caused by this government than the crisis in mental health that we are witnessing. The Brexit soap opera and parliamentary machinations surrounding it has been allowed to dominate our political discussion for far too long and has served as a useful distraction away from this government’s real failings. Alongside this we have the hypocrisy of Sajid Javid making empty declarations that ‘austerity is ended’ whilst what can only be described as the austerity death toll, just keeps rising.
Speaking at the protest Dr Louise Irvine said,
We're all going to do what we can to fight for the kind of changes we can and that needs proper investment , invest in preventive mental health services and acute mental health services. That is why we have called the Mental Health Crisis Summit on Saturday the 28th September to strategise how best to do that. Book your tickets and we'll see you there.
This adds extra urgency to the Mental Health Crisis Summit on Saturday 28th September, a important event that will be bringing together service users, NHS workers, medical professionals, campaigners and the labour movement to demand an end to the mental health crisis that the fault of Conservative Party austerity policy since 2010.
Every life lost is not only an individual tragedy but one that effects many others including family, friends and the wider community. Yet suicide is not inevitable and is preventable. We believe athat the government can and must now treat this crisis as a public health emergency.
We've called an urgent one-day conference in September this year to take a closer look at the mental health crisis:
Mental Health Crisis Summit
Saturday 28 September
10am – 5pm
Royal Free Hospital
School Of Medicine
Rowland Hill Street
It is now official – stigmatisation of suicide has resurfaced within the government. According to a notification from a civil servant within the Ministry of Justice, “the government” has formally decided that is the right thing to do and it is “not an error”, to continue with talk of “committing” suicide, even though that is legally impossible.
That change within the government conflicts with decades of sensitive psychology and prevention techniques, as long epitomised in the guidelines of the Samaritans and even the news media.
The USA has its own solution to untimely deaths – throw people out of hospitals when they run out of cash to pay for treatments. That is what we are progressively heading towards.
However, whilst being a defender of high quality public services, we must stamp out mediocrity and bad practices within those, or we will share responsibility for privatisation. I speak as a certified whistle blower, for which I have paid the inevitable price.
Our priority must always be the protection of those who are most vulnerable. Some of those are wrongly and unlawfully being threatened with prosecutions, because of gross incompetence on the part of government ministers and administrators within the NHS Business Services Authority.
That could not happen, if civil servants complied with their legally imposed duties. Instead, they are keeping their heads down in defiance of the law, when they could so easily provide the solution.
Mention my name to Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union and he will have to agree, that he has decided to allow the outrage to continue without challenge. As I said, I am a certified whistle blower and we must be prepared to tackle all serious issues, regardless of their causes and regardless of what is sustaining them.