On 27th April 2017 the Bishop of St Albans asked the Government what it was doing to support prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Keen of Elie on 3 April (HL6247), what are the measures that will be put in
place to help support prisoners who are at risk of selfharm or suicide. [HL6804] Continue reading
On 3rd April 2017 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question on prison suicides.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the increasing annual number of self-inflicted deaths in prisons since 2012, what steps they are taking to reduce the number of such deaths. [HL6247] Continue reading
On 8th November 2016 Lord Patel of Bradford asked Her Majesty’s Government “what action they are taking to address reports of increasing levels of violence in prisons.” The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: My Lords, I have been in and out of prisons quite a lot, usually in support of the excellent multifaith chaplaincies that attest to the importance of the spirit of human beings. In recent years, there has been an alarming rise in the number of suicides, and in self-harm and violence. The recently published strategy for prison safety and reform is very welcome. Does the Minister agree that an imaginative and creative approach to education and the development of people’s spirit is an essential part of prison life for all those who have offended and are being punished? Continue reading
On 3rd May 2016 Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames asked Her Majesty’s Government, “in the light of the latest figures on deaths in custody and prison violence, what plans they have to improve prison safety in the short term.” The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, given the shocking 27% rise in suicides in prisons in the last year, what can the Minister tell us about the provision of psychiatric and psychotherapeutic care for vulnerable prisoners? Continue reading
On 25th April 2016 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question on support for those at risk of suicide in prison:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recent increases in the number of non-natural deaths in prisons; and what plans they have to improve mental health support for those in prison who are at risk of suicide. [HL7466] Continue reading
“what will we be heard to be saying about the worthwhileness of life under certain conditions? Do we, by legally accommodating the mental suffering of some, debase the currency for all? These are not trivial considerations; nor are they parochially religious ones.” – Rowan Williams, 12/5/06
On 12th May 2006 the House of Lords debated a Private Members’ Bill from Lord Joffe: the ‘Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill’. The then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was one of three Lords Spiritual who spoke against, in a debate that lasted over seven hours and featured 90 speakers.
The Bill would have allowed a doctor to prescribe medication upon request from a terminally ill patient with capacity, so that by means of self-administration, that patient could end his or her life.
Following the debate a vote took place on whether to allow the Bill to proceed any further. Peers voted to not allow it to proceed by 148 to 100. 14 Lords Spiritual joined those voting against the Bill.
A transcript of the Archbishop’s speech follows:
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, opposition to the principle of this Bill is not confined to people of religious conviction—as we have been reminded by the noble, monotheistic and utilitarian Lord, Lord Carlile—and it would be a lazy counter-argument to suggest that such opposition can be written off because it comes only from those committed to a world view not universally shared. It is worth remembering that the secular or “enlightened” view of human autonomy assumed by many of the Bill’s defenders is no less a particular world view rather than a self-evident and universal truth. Continue reading
The Bishop of Lichfield spoke during Lord Eames’ debate on reducing the levels of suicide among young people in the United Kingdom. He focused his remarks on the relationship between low levels of self-worth amongst young people as a factor that contributes to suicidal thoughts. He also raised particular concerns about the risks of bullying or coercion that young people with disabilities face, specifically as debates about assisted suicide become more widespread, and the need to support children who are refugees or asylum seekers and particularly vulnerable due to a lack of adequate mental health care.
The Lord Bishop of Lichfield: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, for initiating this debate.
The Association for Young People’s Health recently published its key data on adolescence. At present, the statistics show that the levels of self-harm are relatively stable, although for such a sensitive topic there is likely to be low reporting. It is clear that girls are at least three times more likely to self-harm than boys; on the other hand, suicide is much more prevalent among young males, particularly those aged between 20 and 24. This coincides with the evidence from ChildLine. Numbers have fallen fractionally in more recent years but the report questions whether this will continue.
How this correlates with child well-being needs careful consideration. We all remember the United Nations report about the unhappiness of children in this country. ChildLine reports that the number of children contacting it about suicidal feelings has risen for the third year running, including a rise of 33% in the last year. Overall, child well-being in the UK, according to the United Nations, has improved from 21st out of 21 to 16th out of 29 countries. Economic reasons have been stated and there is much correlation with the commentary from the Association for Young People’s Health. Continue reading