Camden, Barnet and Haringey councils found to have no suicide prevention plans
Suicide among men has reached its highest level nationally for more than a decade.
In 2013, there were 19 deaths by suicide for every 100,000 men, according to data published last month by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The ONS findings follow a report in January from the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on suicide and self-harm prevention which found that a third of local authorities in England have no suicide action plan.
Labour MP Madeleine Moon, chairman of the APPG, warned that England faces a “ticking timebomb” of suicides as so many councils are unprepared for the rising numbers of suicidal residents.
The APPG report revealed worrying disparities in suicide prevention strategy between north London’s councils.
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In Camden, there is no suicide prevention plan in place according to the APPG, although the council is currently developing one alongside neighbouring borough Islington.
The report shows that neither council in Barnet and Haringey has implemented a plan.
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But in Westminster, which has the highest rate of suicide in London, the council is leading the way in the capital with its suicide prevention measures.
Westminster Council is part of the tri-borough suicide prevention working plan operated alongside neighbouring Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham councils.
The group works on the principle that shared experience and expertise is the most effective way of preventing suicide among residents.
Cllr Rachael Robathan, Westminster’s cabinet member for adults and public health, said: “There is no one single factor that determines mental health and wellbeing, which is why it is so important that we work across organisations to provide support to people who may be considering taking their own life.”
Camden Council records the number of suicides in the borough each year but has had no strategy in place to try to drive the numbers down since 2012.
In 2012, a £7million “ill health prevention budget” was cut in half. It had previously provided free public transport passes to residents suffering from mental illness.
“The government’s very stringent austerity measures haven’t helped,” said Cllr Pat Callaghan, Camden’s cabinet member for adult social care and health.
In Haringey, suicide prevention is integrated into overall mental health and well-being policy.
A council spokesman said this enabled the authority to tackle suicide in a “joined-up way”.
A spokesman for Barnet Council said the authority was in the “final stages” of completing its own suicide prevention plan.