Giving people with mental health problems equal access to vital services

picture of the silent killer report cover

Merlyn Holkar, Research Officer, and Nikki Bond, Research Assistant

A silent killer

4 December 2018

Please note: this post contains information about suicide that readers may find distressing. If you’re in need of support, you can call Samaritans for free on 116 123 anytime of the day – or you can text SHOUT to 85258. For information about where to find support with your money or mental health, you can find some resources on our get help page.

Breaking the link between financial difficulty and suicide

This report uses exclusive analysis of new national data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, and an in-depth survey of people with personal and professional experience of issues around suicide, to show that:

  • Over 420,000 people in problem debt consider taking their own life in England each year, and more than 100,000 people in debt actually attempt suicide
  • People in problem debt are three times more likely to have considered suicide than people who are not in problem debt
  • Long-term factors such as persistent poverty and financial insecurity can put people in at risk of becoming suicidal, as can sudden triggers like the intimidating and threatening letters people receive from lenders.

To help break this potentially devastating cycle, Money and Mental Health recommends:

    • That government update the rules governing the content and language of many creditors’ letters to make them less threatening, easier to understand, and more supportive
    • That regulators explore the ethical implications of using customer data to identify those at risk and outline best practice, and reconsider prescribed content
  • That Public Health England improve guidance to local authorities about the role of financial difficulty in preventing suicide, and add data on financial difficulties to toolkits
  • That essential services providers should offer suicide prevention training to staff, and improve referral pathways to support services.

Suicide is not inevitable, it is preventable. Financial problems can always be resolved. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal feelings, financial difficulties or mental health problems there is advice and support out there.