Fresh concerns about the safety and care of patients at mental health units have been raised after figures revealed 200 people killed themselves in seven years.
Between 2010 and 2016, 224 people died of self-inflicted injuries in mental health hospitals in England, data from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) showed.
The figures also revealed that more women than men have begun taking their own lives, leading campaigners to describe the NHS care of women with mental health issues “not fit for purpose”.
Data revealed that 134 men and 90 women killed themselves in the time frame available.
The number of women choosing to end their lives began to rise in 2015, when for the first time more women killed themselves than men. In 2015, 20 women died and 15 men died.
This was the same in 2016 when 10 women died, in comparison to six men.
Vicki Nash, the head of policy and campaigns at mental health charity, Mind, told the Guardian: “It’s good to see the rates of self-inflicted deaths are declining. However, we’re concerned to see increased deaths among women.”
Katharine Sacks-Jones, the chief executive of Agenda, which campaigns on the risks in society faced by women and girls and obtained the figures from the CQC, told the newspaper: “It is appalling that we are seeing so many self-inflicted deaths of women and girls detained under the Mental Health Act.
“Many will have been detained precisely because they were at risk to themselves, yet the Mental Health Act is not keeping them safe and is failing to support and protect them.”
“The reality is that the conditions under which the Mental Health Act are enforced are not fit for purpose for women and girls,” she added.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Inpatient suicides are at an all-time low. However, every suicide is a tragedy, which is why we recently announced a zero suicide ambition for mental health inpatients.”
The Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1800 273 8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org