National Suicide Prevention Alliance

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 21st July 2020.

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Photo of Lord Tunnicliffe Lord Tunnicliffe Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow Minister (Transport)

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Ministry of Defence is a member of the National Suicide Prevention Alliance.

Photo of Lord Tunnicliffe Lord Tunnicliffe Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow Minister (Transport)

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many times the Ministry of Defence's Suicide Prevention Working Group met in (1) 2018, (2) 2019, and (3) 2020 to date.

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is a full member of the National Suicide Prevention Alliance; the Army act as the lead point of contact for MOD.

The MOD’s Suicide Prevention Working Group (now renamed as the Suicide Prevention Review Implementation Board (SPRIB)) was created in 2018 in response to an internal review on suicide within the Armed Forces. The first meeting took place on 13 November 2018, with the group meeting on three occasions in 2019 (March, May and September). The majority of recommendations were actioned within this time, yet further work was required on the key recommendation on the creation of a Defence Suicide Registry (DSR). To enable focus on this work, the SPRIB was paused until the DSR Project had completed its discovery phase, which concluded in March 2020, and the SPRIB will reconvene in the autumn.

Suicide rates in the UK Regular Armed Forces have shown a declining trend since the 1990’s, and for the last twenty years rates have been lower than the general population. The suicide rate among males aged 16-59 years in the UK between the general population in 2018 (latest data available) was 20 per 100,000 compared to a UK Armed Forces rate of 11 per 100,000 in 2018.

However, we are not complacent. One suicide is one too many and a tragedy for the individual, their family, friends and colleagues. The MOD and NHS(England) have jointly commissioned Manchester university to undertake a study into the factors which led to suicide for both serving and veteran personnel.

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