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Radical action needed to prevent suicide among young people, shadow health secretary warns

Labour's Jonathan Ashworth said mental health access for young people is Labour’s ‘utmost priority’

RADICAL action is needed to prevent suicide among young people due to a system that’s “making people sick,” shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth warned today.

Speaking at a protest called by Keep Our NHS Public, Health Campaigns Together and Mental Health — Time for Action (MHTA), Mr Ashworth said mental health access for young people is Labour’s “utmost priority.”

Suicide rates in Britain have risen sharply to the highest level since 2002, especially among children, according to recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures.

More than 200 school-age children die by suicide each year, the ONS statistics show.

Mr Ashworth said: “It is heartbreaking that so many young people and children are being failed by the system. We cannot stand and watch while they are taking their lives.

“Labour will put the money into the health service, but we have to do more to fundamentally change our society.

“Improving the health of our country is not just about being treated in a GP or the hospital but by addressing the housing crisis, the way the benefit system works and the structural differences in economy.

“It is about austerity and taking radical action to intervene in suicide.”

MHTA campaigner and primary school teacher Rachel Bannister told how her daughter had to go to a hospital 300 miles away from home because no beds were available any closer.

Ms Bannister said: “My daughter spent two of her teenage years institutionalised in a system that is underfunded and cannot possibly provide the care needed.

“It’s no wonder so many young people are driven to end their lives.”

Campaigners are calling for an end to austerity policies of cuts to communities and schools and the defunding and privatisation of the NHS.

The protest’s organisers will hold a mental health crisis summit on Saturday September 28.

Anyone in need of emotional support is advised to contact the 24-hour Samaritans helpline on 116-123.

For more information on Keep Our NHS Public, Health Campaigns Together and Mental Health —Time for Action’s Mental Health Crisis Summit, visit: mstar.link/2kCpd7W 

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