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Church News

Bishop's bill addressing gambling-related suicide passes through House of Lords

by Alex Collett

A bill addressing suicide as a result of detrimental gambling habits has been passed through the House of Lords.

The bill was inspired by Jackie Smith, a young man who lost his life to gambling habits.

Rt Rev Alan Smith stated that information and treatment of problem-gambling had been "woefully inadequate" and failed to meet Smith's needs. 

Addressing the House of Lords, Rt Rev Alan Smith said: "The reason behind the Bill is that, seven or eight years ago, a couple came to see me, sat in my study and told me how their son had taken his life because of a gambling problem. 

"The sad thing about that story was the way they talked about the fact that they could see what was happening. 

"He had gone in and out of treatment, but they just could not reach out to him. 

"They knew what was going to happen, and they watched as he slowly spiralled down until that fateful day when he took his life. 

"That led me on a journey."

Public Health England has stated that the number of gambling-related suicides reaches around 409 people a year. 

The number accounts for 8 percent of all suicides in 2020.

Rt Rev said: "Suicide is a terrible thing and the best way to tackle it is to identify the underlying causes and put in strategies to address them. 

"So I am grateful for all those who have helped it get this far and I will be returning to this later on."

The Parliamentary Under State-Secretary of State, Lord Wolfson of Tredegar said: "The NHS long-term plan commits to expanding the geographical coverage of NHS services for people with serious gambling problems. 

"The National Problem Gambling Clinic and four further clinics are already in operation, with ten more expected by 2023-24, and £57 million is being rolled out to support local suicide prevention plans and to develop suicide bereavement services in every part of the country. 

"More imminently, in the coming weeks, we will publish a White Paper on the review of the Gambling Act 2005, which was launched last year."

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