The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has announced a new partnership with The Samaritans as part of its campaign to tackle problem gambling.
The announcement follows fresh research by GambleAware and UKGC into the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS). The new analysis found that almost one in five problem gamblers had attempted or contemplated suicide over a twelve month period, and although it was based on data that is over a decade old, according to the Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission, Neil McArthur, it shows that there is a need for action to tackle problem gambling:
As a result of this research, the Commission and Samaritans will work together to bolster the existing requirements on gambling businesses to identify those at risk and take action to address and reduce harm.”
The partnership between the UKGC and Samaritans will complement the existing guidelines that the UKGC enforce among its operators relating to suicide risk. As a result of the research, gambling support charity GamCare will also be trialling an increase in the operating hours of the National Gambling helpline to 24 hours over the next two years to offer more support to those at risk.
The original survey included 7,403 people, and of those, 41 were considered to be problem gamblers. Using the figures in the report, it was estimated that around five percent of problem gamblers had reported a suicide attempt compared with 0.6 percent of those who had no gambling issues.
Among other measures to be introduced to tackle problem gambling are the development of educational packages for health practitioners to increase awareness of the link between gambling and suicide, and the launch of a systematic review of all the existing evidence in this area.