Gambling with Lives

Our charity was set up following the suicides of the sons and partners of our founding trustees, which were a direct result of their addiction to gambling. A high proportion of suicides are caused by gambling – based on currently available research, 250-650 deaths a year. More suicides are inevitable until there is a much greater awareness of the suicide risk generally and amongst health professionals in particular. Our aim is to save lives and reduce families’ suffering because of gambling.

We are currently a small organisation which aims to support families already bereaved by suicides and to raise awareness of the dangers of gambling, in particular the suicide risk.  We aim to inform politicians and policy makers who are seeking to improve regulation and treatment.  We also aim to improve awareness of the risks involved in gambling amongst young people.  And, because there is an almost complete absence of it, we want to establish a support service for families and friends who are bereaved or otherwise seriously affected by gambling addiction.

How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?

We provide a person-centred support model, aimed at addressing the frustrations in people’s lives that are making them ill. This may include housing, debt, domestic violence, children out of school, an offending history – just about anything. All staff are Mental Health First Aiders and have a sideways brief to have conversations about suicidal thoughts, and to provide crisis support and access to counselling/other services.

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What are your current priorities?

Gambling with Lives aims to:

– Support families who have been bereaved by gambling related suicides

– Raise awareness amongst gamblers, their families and friends, and health professionals of the dangerous effects of gambling on mental health, and the high suicide risk;

In support of these aims, we will also seek to:

– Reduce gambling related harm by supporting better regulation of gambling products which lead to an increased risk of gambling addiction and adverse effects on health;

– Promote the treatment of gambling as a health issue which requires improved access to health services integrated with the NHS, and access to support for families and friends

– Give a voice to families and friends bereaved by gambling and bring the health issues surrounding gambling to the attention of policy makers and bodies responsible for regulating the gambling industry

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What challenges are you currently facing?

– Reluctance within the industry and, to some extent, within organisations meant to be protecting people, to acknowledge the risk of mental health harm and of suicide

– Time and resources

– Lack of research evidence to inform action

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