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10% of all suicides linked to illness, FoIA shows

Chronic and terminal illness sufferers account for 10 percent of annual suicides in Britain with more than 400 people taking their own lives every year, according to a new study by the think tank Demos.

The research, The Truth About Suicide, was partly conducted using the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA).  Requests were sent to 147 Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) who are supposed to conduct annual suicide audits, The Guardian has reported.

Demos told the Guardian that of the 4,390 individual suicide cases last year, 10 percent involved people “experiencing some form of serious physical illness as an influencing factor”.

Demos recommended that people suffering from chronic and terminal illnesses should be treated as a high-risk group for suicide. But the think tank argues a recent government consultation has ignored them and continued to focus on those using mental health services, self-harmers and prisoners, the at-risk groups identified by Labour in 2002.

Louise Bazalgette, author of the report, told The Guardian: “Eighty prisoners committed suicide last year. That is only a fifth of suicides of patients with chronic or terminal conditions. There’s an urgent need for support”.

The Department of Health said it was working “with bereaved families and experts in general practice, local government, and other organisations on a new strategy to prevent suicides.”

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