A bereaved father and a local MP are meeting with the Suicide Prevention Minister Gillian Keegan MP on Monday (1 November) to urge the Government to set more ambitious targets for suicide prevention in the UK and push for more radical changes within mental health services.
Former television reporter and presenter Mike McCarthy and Louise Haigh MP for Sheffield Heeley have joined forces to campaign for improved mental health support. The campaign was started by Mike after losing his 31-year-old son Ross to suicide earlier this year.
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK and the leading cause of death for men and women aged 20-34.
“Ross wrote in his farewell letter to his family: ‘Please fight for mental health – the support is just not there.’ After struggling desperately for more than ten years with severe depression he asked for therapy and was put on a six-month waiting list. He died while he was waiting.
“Over many years there has been no significant change in the statistics and yet it remains a taboo subject with relatively little political or media discussion. Taking into account families and friends, thousands upon thousands of people are added to this growing toll of misery.
“As families bereaved by suicide, we are no longer willing to stay silent. There are far too many of us and the clamour of people saying enough is enough is getting louder. Our loved ones no longer have the voice to make their case. We will be their voices. We will be heard.”
Louise Haigh MP said:
“When I was contacted by Mike earlier this year and he told me about the pain and suffering Ross had gone though I knew that something had to be done to improve mental health support for all. Its shocking that someone who is reaching out for support is made to wait more than six months for an appointment.
“Mental health services across Sheffield and England are under enormous pressure, and the number of people whose mental health has been affected after the pandemic has increased. In Sheffield only one-third of young people who need to access mental health services are able to get an appointment, this means that two-thirds of people are being missed, this absolutely needs to be resolved.
“We’ll be speaking directly to the Suicide Prevention Minister and asking her what funding the government can make available for mental health services and what more can be done to make sure that no other family has to go through what Mike and his family have faced.”
“Louise Haigh MP has been front and centre of this new campaign to push the agenda forward and I welcome the support of any politician – of no matter which party – to join us. Society is losing too many good people and we have to bring this tragic and unnecessary loss into the open.”
Mike and I spoke to Gloria de Piero about mental health services and the need for radical reform.