UK charities warn country’s cost of living crisis is increasing suicide rate
British charities have warned Prime Minister Rishi Sunak about the impact that UK's cost of living crisis is having on mental health and suicide rates.
In an open letter to the prime minister, 19 charities including the Samaritans and Mind, have urged Sunak "to act with speed and compassion to tackle the root causes of destitution", the BBC reported.
People living in the most deprived 10% of areas in the UK are more than twice as likely to die from suicide than those living in the wealthiest 10% of areas, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The government has pledged £5.4m funding to over 100 suicide prevention charities to support them to deliver their services.
In addition, £15m has been invested through the Prevention and Promotion for Better Mental Health Fund in 40 local authority areas in the most deprived parts of the country.
In their letter, the charities say they will continue to provide all the support they can but add: "The first intervention to reduce mental ill health and prevent suicide is to ensure every household has the means to be safe and warm with enough to eat."
Last year 5,583 suicides were registered in England and Wales which was 6.9% higher than in 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Mental health charities have reported an increase in concerns about money, with the Samaritans saying they were contacted 12,000 times in July alone.
Mind's Infoline has seen a 40% rise in calls related to money compared with last year.
Some 77% of adults in Britain reported feeling very or somewhat worried about the rising costs of living, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The Samaritans say that with over 1.5 million people currently on a waiting list for help, the cost of living crisis could put the mental health system "on the brink of collapse."
The government has had a suicide prevention strategy in place for England since 2012 and in 2019 it launched a cross-government "workplan" to coordinate action by the NHS, charities and local government.
In October, Conservative MP Jason McCartney raised the issue on the House of Commons, saying that each death is "a tragedy for their family, for their friends and their communities."
He said: "Suicide is the biggest killer of young men in Britain today. It needs to be addressed the same way as any other illness.