(First thought: Gosh. Second post. Responding to media coverage was one of the aims of this blog, but not the first. I wasn’t expecting the government to launch a major new suicide prevention strategy less than a week after it went live…)
Balancing “It’s brilliant anyone’s talking about this at all” with my cynical “Yeah but…” face, from what I’ve read today, these seem to be the overriding thoughts and concerns:
- Is timing stories about depression and mental health, however well-meant, to the baloney “Blue Monday” very sensible? I’m not sure. On one hand it deflects attention from a silly marketing stunt to a serious point. On the other, as this blog post from a few years ago says, using Blue Monday as a news peg risks conflating being a bit narked off with winter and fancying a holiday with having a suicide plan (edited to add: You can be both, too).
- Where’s the money for all these resources coming from? Words aren’t helpful without funding attached.
- Who and what defines someone “at risk” in a mental health context? If it’s defined as “likely to cause trouble in the community and create headlines we don’t want”, that’s missing a lot of people.
- How does this square with policies which have made life more difficult for quite a lot of vulnerable people? We should be careful about directly linking policies – or any single cause – to suicide, but adding to environmental risk factors isn’t good practice.
- Is this likely to help those in the middle ground between entry-level and crisis point – currently being neglected?
- How about people who already have decent access to therapy (either on the NHS or privately) but are still greatly at risk? We need to address this too. And definitely not to think “Well, if a well-off person who can afford therapy until it comes out of their ears can die let’s not even bother with the poor.”
- How is this initiative going to be communicated from now on? Announcing a “raft” of new measures and services (cf: Words Only Journalists Use) doesn’t mesh well with “cracking down” on “misuse” of services like A&E if people who don’t understand complex systems are going to end up there because they don’t know what else is available or how to access it.
- Is this being developed in conjunction with suicide survivors/bereavement survivors based on what they think might have helped them/their loved ones? It’s great the message is being spread that suicide is preventable, but it needs to be an informed one.