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MPs urge strategy to cut suicide rate and target 'harmful internet content'

Ministers should consider how to restrict access to "harmful internet content" which could encourage people to take their own lives to help bring down the "unacceptable" suicide rate, MPs have said.

The Commons Health Committee urged the Government to develop a strategy with strong national leadership and clear accountability to combat avoidable loss of life from suicide.

Wider help for public mental health services and targeted support for at-risk groups through early intervention should also be prioritised, the committee said in its interim report into suicide prevention.

Those bereaved by suicide should also receive better primary and secondary care.

The committee also said media guidelines on the reporting of suicide are being widely ignored and greater attention should be paid to breaches of the rules.

Tory MP and committee chairwoman Sarah Wollaston said: "4,820 people are recorded as having died by suicide in England last year, but the true figure is likely to be higher.

"Suicide is preventable and much more can and should be done to support those at risk.

"I hope to see the most important messages from witnesses to our inquiry taken into account by the Government in their renewed suicide prevention strategy.

"The committee will scrutinise the updated strategy and then hold a follow-up hearing before publishing a full report."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Every death by suicide is a tragedy and devastating for families, friends and communities.

"We are investing almost £1 billion in providing mental health support in A&E and home based crisis care - and are currently updating our suicide prevention strategy, which we are confident will address many of the issues raised by the committee."

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