GwL families call for every gambling suicide to be investigated

The largest-ever group of people bereaved by gambling-related suicides – 50 family members from 18 families from across the UK – gathered at Westminster on December 8 to call for every gambling-related suicide to be properly investigated so that lessons can be learned.

Our families made the call to ensure their voices were heard before the imminent release of the Gambling Act review whitepaper. The families were also calling for public health messages on the risk to life of addictive gambling products and for gambling to be made safer including changes to the most dangerous products, proper affordability checks, and banning advertising and inducements to gamble such as “free” bonuses and VIP schemes.

Family members that attended included Annie Ashton who lost her husband Luke in April after he was lured into gambling by so-called “free bet” bonuses, Judith Bruney who lost her son Chris after he was given VIP status by a gambling operator, and our founders Charles and Liz Ritchie who lost their son Jack and will be speaking at the event. These three families all recently met with Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.

“It has to stop now. We’re asking that the Gambling Commission investigates every gambling-related suicide for lessons to inform regulation and to establish if companies have broken the law.”

Liz Ritchie, Co-Founder, Gambling with Lives

Speakers at the event included Gambling Minister, Chris Philp MP, as well as Carolyn Harris MP, Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP who are Chair and Vice-Chair of the Gambling Related Harms APPG, and Lord Foster who chairs Peers for Gambling Reform.

Gambling Minister, Chris Philp MP, showing his support for Gambling with Lives at our reception.

Our co-founders, Charles and Liz Ritchie, lost their son Jack to gambling-related suicide after he was enticed into gambling while at school.

“It’s unacceptable that hundreds of mostly young people are dying every year and there are no investigations, and nothing is being learned. Gambling-related deaths need to be properly recorded and there must be an independent inquiry into every one of them,” said Charles.

Liz added:

“We have ended up in a world where gambling is normalised by wall-to-wall advertising and sponsorship and those who have become addicted are seen as problem people who can’t gamble safely. But the truth is that gambling products are highly addictive, and the predatory practices of gambling companies have gone unchecked for too long.”

The recent Public Health England report confirmed the devastating number of gambling suicides linked to gambling, giving a research estimate of 409 gambling suicides per year in England. Our research suggests that up to 10 per cent of all UK suicides are related to gambling and those addicted to gambling are thought to be up to 15 times more like to take their own lives than members of the general population. There are between 340,000 and 1.4 million people addicted to gambling in the UK, including at least 55,000 children.