Bishop of St Albans asks about problem gambling related suicides

On 25th March 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question on problem gambling-related suicide:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of Gambling disorder, increased mortality, suicidality, and associated comorbidity: A longitudinal nationwide register study, published in November 2018; and in particular its finding that problem gamblers are 15 times more likely to take their own lives.

Lord Ashton of Hyde: Preventing suicide is a priority for Government, and we take new evidence on this matter very seriously.

The longitudinal study on gambling disorder in Sweden indicated increased mortality, suicidality, and associated comorbidity rates of other disorders, among those with a clinical diagnosis of gambling disorder. However, the report also indicated that the factors contributing to suicide are multifactorial, which make it difficult to isolate the role gambling played when weighted against other co-morbid factors. In particular, it noted that depression was a significant predictor of suicide death. The report Gambling Behaviour in Great Britain 2016, which is based on the Health Surveys, shows a clear correlation between poor mental health and problem gambling.

GambleAware has commissioned research to further our understanding of the links between problem gambling and suicide risk. This will include secondary analysis of the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey to explore the relationship between problem gambling and the experience of suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and non-suicidal self-harm among adults living in England. The government’s Suicide Prevention Strategy, published in January this year, committed to improving research on factors related to suicide, such as debt and gambling addiction.