The government’s newly-appointed suicide prevention minister apparently quipped she would rather “jump off Beachy Head” than join Ukip, it has emerged.
Jackie Doyle-Price was announced in the newly-created role on Tuesday, to mark World Mental Health day, but within hours, controversial comments she made in 2014 resurfaced.
Her choice of words came after speculation that she would become the next Tory MP to defect to the right-wing party, following in the steps of former Clacton MP Douglas Carswell.
In response, the Thurrock MP reportedly told a local newspaper: “I would sooner jump off Beachy Head than join Ukip.
“I am a Conservative. I have never run away from a fight and I am not going to start now. The stakes are too high.”
There are around 20 deaths by suicide each year at Beachy Head, a chalk headland in East Sussex.
A Labour party spokesman said: “Any comment which increases stigma or disrespect for or a lack of understanding of mental health issues, in this case related to depression or suicide is obviously completely inappropriate. And unacceptable.”
In her new post, Doyle-Price has pledged £1.8million to charity Samaritans to remain a free 24-hour service for the next four years.
She will also spearhead a mental health strategy with input from national and local government, self-harm charities, clinicians and people personally affected by suicide.
Samaritans, the Department of Health and the office of Doyle-Price have all been approached for comment.
Useful websites and helplines:
Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 UK and Ireland (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
You can call Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Monday-Friday 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41.
Maytree is a sanctuary for the suicidal in north London in a non-medical setting. For help or to enquire about a stay, call 020 7263 7070.
Rape Crisis services for women and girls who have been raped or have experienced sexual violence - 0808 802 9999
Survivors UK offers support for men and boys - 0203 598 3898