Samaritans and GwL criticise ‘disgraceful’ gambling suicide comments

The Samaritans and GwL have criticised the head of the Betting and Gaming Council, Michael Dugher, for comments he made to the Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee downplaying the role of gambling in suicides.

Whilst giving evidence before the committee on July 11, Mr Dugher quoted the Samaritans’ guidance that “suicide is complex” when questioned about gambling’s role in Luke Ashton’s death.

Samaritans CEO Julie Bentley expressed her concerns about the misuse of the Samaritans’ advice in a letter to Mr Dugher, which you can read in full here.

“I am appalled that someone would attempt to twist Samaritans’ words in an effort to deflect from the devastating harm that gambling products can cause,” she said.

“This kind of diversionary tactic is reminiscent of what we saw from the tobacco lobby and it would seem the gambling industry is now taking a similar approach.”

She added that it has “recently been recognised that gambling can be a dominant factor in a suicide, without which the death would not occur. Any attempt to deny this by mis-using the words of a suicide prevention charity is nothing short of disgraceful.”

The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) estimates there are up to 496 gambling-related suicides every year in England alone, with up to 1.44 million adults addicted to gambling.

“Michael Dugher’s cynical manipulation of Samaritans’ position on suicide is a barefaced attempt to hide the gambling industry’s role in hundreds of deaths a year,” said Will Prochaska, Strategy Director at GwL.

“We commend Samaritans for standing alongside families bereaved by gambling related suicide in calling it out.”

Sign up for regular email updates here.