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Today, Samaritans published its first best practice guidance for the gambling industry to help gambling businesses understand and adopt practical steps to prevent gambling-related suicide. 

Research has found a clear association between gambling and suicide. People experiencing gambling-related harms are more likely to also experience suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts than the general population1. To help tackle the problem, Samaritans has undertaken a programme of work to further understand gambling as a risk factor for suicide and what can be done to prevent gambling-related suicide. 

With appetite from the gambling industry to do more to prevent gambling-related harms and suicide2, Samaritans embarked on setting industry standards that gambling businesses can hold themselves to account and is urging all gambling businesses to adopt its guidelines as a minimum to demonstrate their commitment to suicide prevention.  

Mubeen Bhutta, Head of Policy at Samaritans, said: “Suicide is preventable and we know different industries need to address specific challenges in order to have effective suicide prevention practices in place. With a clear association between gambling and suicide, identifying the changes needed in the gambling environment to prevent suicide is a vital part of our work. We’re proud to publish these industry guidelines and look forward to seeing all gambling businesses engage with them in a proactive effort to do more to prevent gambling-related suicide. 

“Suicide prevention is everyone’s business. There is still much more that needs to be done within the wider gambling environment to reduce the risk of gambling-related harm, and to ensure that everyone can get the support they need. Operators following our guidelines is one positive step towards improving suicide prevention in the gambling industry and we will continue to push for action to help reduce gambling-related harms in the future.”

Samaritans developed these guidelines by consulting with a wide range of relevant stakeholders, including people with lived experience, other charities, health and support services and those involved in the gambling industry. 

Samaritans’ industry guidelines are uniquely focused on suicide prevention and have been created with the view of sitting alongside existing industry resources3 that aim to reduce the risk of gambling-related harms. 

Recommendations include how to have a robust suicide prevention policy to safeguard customers and staff, how to use harm prevention to guide marketing communications, how to use data to help prevent suicide and how to communicate sensitively with customers in distress.  

These guidelines are another example of Samaritans’ work to promote excellence in suicide prevention across industries that have specific associated risks, following the charity’s guidance for technology platforms and the media sector. 

To find out more about Samaritans’ work in gambling-related harms and suicide, please visit our policy and research page.

As part of this programme of work, Samaritans is working with GamCare, a leading national charity working to minimise gambling related harm, on industry resources designed to reduce risk of suicide in gamblers. GamCare was also one of the stakeholders whose insights and expertise informed Samaritans’ guidelines.

Wardle, H. et al. (2019) Problem gambling and suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and non-suicidal self-harm in England: evidence from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007. Available from: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/PDF/Report-1-Problem-gambling-and-suicidal-thoughts-suicide-attempts-and-non-suicidal-self-harm-in-England-evidence-from-the-Adult-Psychiatric-Morbidity-Survey-2007.pdf

A Learning Needs Analysis was conducted with key stakeholders from the gambling industry which found a need and desire from gambling businesses to be further educated and upskilled in suicide prevention.

Examples of this include GamCare's Safer Gambling Standard and suite of industry facing training products. 

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