GPs have a critcial role to play in Suicide Prevention #WSPD18


We invite you to take the #123GP quiz. It only takes 2 minutes - you’ll be sure to learn a lot!

The purpose of this quiz is to raise awareness of the #123GP campaign for GPs to be equipped with better mental health care, including training in suicide prevention. 


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This quiz was created and developed by Catherine from the #123GP Campaign


Monday 10 September is World Suicide Prevention Day. The theme this year is Working Together to Prevent Suicide. Across NI people will be coming together to raise awareness of suicide prevention, against a backdrop of increasing numbers of precious lives being lost to suicide.   


Right across our society people have a role to play in helping to prevent suicide, from health services, emergency services, workplaces, schools, community, sporting and church organisations and many, many more.


As front line health professionals, GPs working in primary care have a critical role to play in preventing suicide. 90% of people who are worried about their mental health go to their GP as their first port of call. GPs are also very often the first point of contact for, and care of, those with suicidal behaviours and those self-harming,


The Protect Life 2 consultation document recognised the role they have to play “given that they are the main source of professional support for somebody in the community seeking assistance with emotional distress”.

It’s vital therefore that GPs are properly equipped to respond to patients presenting with mental health problems or in crisis. The sad reality however is that too often they lack the knowledge and skills to respond appropriately. The ongoing lack of mandatory training for both trainee and qualified GPs in suicide prevention cannot be allowed to continue. If taxi drivers and sports coaches for example recognise the importance of getting themselves trained up in suicide prevention then GPs absolutely must receive training.


GPs also need to be able to offer appropriate help and support. Psychological therapies, or counselling as they are more commonly known, often provide an effective treatment option for people experiencing a range of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Providing access to such treatment in a timely manner can ensure that a patient’s mental health does not deteriorate and spiral downwards into a crisis.


However, at present the funding from the Health and Social Care Board ( HSCB) for the provision of GP practice based counselling is woefully inadequate. #123GP campaigners have worked out that the budget averages out at £2.29 per patient – a pittance of what would be required. We also have a situation where only two thirds of GPs draw down funding, leaving patients at the mercy of a post code lottery. Patients often wait for over 6 months and longer for initial appointments for counselling, with all of the consequences for their mental health.


In an open letter to the HSCB, a large number of GPs, counsellors and patients came together to call on the Board to significantly increase the funding for counselling. #123GP campaigners met with the HSCB in August and called on them to immediately double the annual funding to £3million, as a first step in ending the Cinderella status of this service.


Campaigners were hopeful - given the growing rates of suicide and mental ill-health in our society, matched by the evidence they presented and the critical support from front-line professionals - that Dr. Sloan and the Health and Social Care Board would welcome this positive contribution from families, bringing their experience and what are constructive, modest proposals to the table. 


Regrettably the families left the meeting feeling that the scale of the crisis facing our communities is not recognised and that their urgency and commitment was not reciprocated.


Dr. Sloan Harper HSCB agreed to provide a formal response to #123GP campaigners on behalf of the Board by 4 September. Campaigners are still waiting for this response.


You can support #123GP campaigners by contacting the HSCB and urging them to respond positively to the call for increased funding for counselling in GP practices.


For more information follow us on twitter @123GPCampaign or contact