A new report published today by Mental Health Innovations reveals that, in its first three years, the charity’s free, 24/7 text messaging mental health support service, Shout, has prevented the suicides of 126 children, young people and adults in the UK. As a result, the service has saved the UK economy £252m. Forecasting indicates Shout could prevent a further 288 suicides by the end of 2025, saving the UK economy £576m.
The report, ‘Shout’s role in UK suicide prevention and the economic benefits’ brings together evidence from the first external economic analyses of Shout from Frontier Economics, and the Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London, alongside evidence from the Metropolitan Police Service, to determine the practical and financial efficacy of the service in relation to suicide prevention.
The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care said: “Shout and their volunteers are at the forefront of digital innovation in suicide prevention and are making a huge difference. I saw the importance of their work as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and this report highlights once again the incredible impact they have.”
Speaking at an event at the Royal Society of Chemistry to mark the report’s launch, he said: “Every 90 minutes someone loses their life to suicide. This report is not only timely but needed. Provided with the right level of resources and finance, Shout can achieve incredible outcomes.”
Key findings from the analyses reveal that:
- Shout is a value for money suicide prevention service, preventing far more deaths than the 3 suicides per year that equate to a break-even on the service costs
- At a cost of £10 per conversation, Shout is cost-saving to public health and emergency services alone and is likely to offer further savings to the rest of the economy
- At current rate of growth, forecasting indicates that, by the end of 2025, the service could prevent a minimum of 288 more suicides and save the UK economy £576m
- Suicide and intentional self-harm is currently the leading cause of death among children and young adults aged 5-34 in the UK. 83% of Shout texters are aged 34 and under; Shout has the unique potential to save young lives at scale
- The number of girls and women aged 10-24 dying by suicide has increased by 133% between 2012 and 2021. With girls and women accounting for 77% of Shout’s texters aged under 25, Shout is positioned to save the lives of girls and young women
- Shout could provide a digital lifeline for people who are not likely to be in touch with other support services; most people who die by suicide have not used mental health services before and 43% of Shout texters have never sought support elsewhere
Professor The Lord Darzi of Denham, OM, KBE, PC, FRS. Co-Director, Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London, said: “Shout is an exciting innovation that is already changing the shape of mental health provision in the UK. This report shows how the simple, text-based service is providing immediate, life-saving support to people at high risk of suicide. At the same time the 540,000 people who have contacted the service are increasing our understanding of who is experiencing mental health crises, where there are gaps in services and how we can offer better support. With demand for help rising year by year, especially from young people, Shout is needed now more than ever."
Since its launch in May 2018, Shout has taken more than 1,500,0000 text conversations with 540,000 UK children, young people and adults in urgent need of support, with suicide (35%) being the most common presenting issue. Shout Volunteers are trained to assess risk and de-escalate texters experiencing suicidal thoughts or urges. From 525,000 conversations relating to suicide, Shout has actioned interventions for more than 12,000 individuals - notifying the emergency services when de-escalation has not been possible and a texter is at imminent risk of suicide.
Data and clinical experts at Mental Health Innovations conclude that, if only 1% of the interventions initiated by Shout resulted in a life saved, then the service has prevented the suicides of 126 children, young people and adults in its first three years. Based on a value for life calculation of £2m by the London School of Economics and Political Science, this equates to a saving of £252 million for the UK economy.
Evidence from the Metropolitan Police Service shows that for about 1 in 3 interventions in London during the first half of 2022, the texter required medical assistance. Shout’s clinical review of these particular interventions judged texters to be in a life-threatening situation in at least half of the cases. As such, the actual number of suicides Shout has prevented, and the subsequent savings to the UK economy, could be much greater.
If demand for Shout continues to grow year-on-year at the current rate of 25%, at conservative estimates the service could prevent a further 288 suicides and save the UK economy an additional £576 million by the end of 2025.
Victoria Hornby OBE, Chief Executive of Mental Health Innovations, said: “Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy, yet suicide is often preventable and not inevitable. Shout provides a crucial moment of connection for the hundreds of children, young people and adults who contact us every day for support with suicidal thoughts and intentions. Not only does Shout save lives but, in doing so, it also delivers significant cost-savings for the UK economy. To continue achieving these important outcomes for those at risk of suicide, their families and wider society, further investment in preventative services, like Shout, is crucial.”