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Summer criticises NHS mental health waiting list

Bernard Summer
Bernard Summer Image credit: theguardian.com

New Order’s Bernard Summer has criticised how long patients have to wait for mental health support on the NHS.

Summer’s former bandmate Ian Curtis took his own life on 18 May 1980 when the two musicians were part of the post-punk band Joy Division.

The lead singer was speaking at a suicide prevention event held in parliment earlier this week where he talked about a friend’s daughter who took her own life after waiting over a year for mental health support.

“You can’t go on a waiting list if you are thinking of killing yourself. It’s ludicrous,” Sumner told the panel. “You can’t wait 18 months. You need help straight away.”

He was joined by Labour leader, Keir Starmer and a health minister, Gillian Keegan besides the mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and New Order’s Stephen Morris.

Keegan’s younger cousin took their life, the family tried to find support but unfortunately there was nothing available at the time.

“We know there are massive waiting lists,” said Keegan, “I worry about it every day.”

The minister went on to say the government are currently training 27,000 extra mental health professionals as well as providing mental health support for schoolchildren and suicide prevention policies aimed at men aged 45 to 55, new mothers and people stepping down from military who fall in the high risk catergory.

Summer went on to say Curtis stayed at his place two weeks before his death in 1980.

“I tried every night to talk him out of it,” Sumner said. “He agreed with me but he was on a mission. It was going to happen. I don’t know what more we could have done.”

He suggested mental health professionals engage more with families who may not be aware of their loved ones mental health conditions overshadowing the current patient confidentiality rules.

Keegan said:  “It isn’t easy because of the age of consent, and if someone doesn’t want you to be involved, but more family involvement will help in many cases.”

Curtis took his life at the age of 23 when his marriage was heading for a divorce, his first suicde attempt was when he found it difficult to cope living with depression and epilepsy.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts you can call the Samartians on 116 123 or visit their website.