Online gambling causing spike in suicide of young men in UK: NHS
According to experts, "young men in football shirts” flooding clinics have fallen prey to “predatory tactics” by betting firms.
A surge of young men turning to A&E (accidents and emergencies) has been linked to online gambling, according to health authorities at the National Health Service (NHS).
Demand for NHS gambling clinics witnessing a 42% annual rise led to the need to open two more facilities in England to cope.
According to Matt Gaskell, the clinical lead and consultant psychologist for the NHS Northern Gambling Service, “young men in football shirts” flooding clinics have fallen prey to “predatory tactics” by betting firms.
He said to The Times, “People start gambling as soon as they wake up in the morning; they’re gambling in the shower, gambling while they’re driving to work. The NHS is picking up the tab," adding, "There has been an increase in people turning up at A&E in crisis, in a state of suicide. People are completely desperate, begging for help and seeing suicide as a genuine escape.”
Three quarters of patients, he confirmed are men and in their 30s. “One of the first things I noticed was that groups were filled with young men wearing football shirts,” he added. “That hasn’t stopped.”
After the NHS stopped taking money from the gambling industry for treating addiction cases, its national mental health director, Claire Murdoch, relayed that the decision was “heavily influenced” by patients uncomfortable about funding by the industry.
£16 million ($19,070,640) between April and December last year in voluntary donations were collected by GambleAware accounts from the gambling industry to fund treatment services including NHS gambling clinics, which received £1.2 million ($1,430,922) in 2020-2021.
Voluntary pledges to GambleAware included £1 million ($1,191,915) from William Hill, a little over £4 million ($4,767,660) from Bet365 and £4 million ($4,767,660) from Entain.
668 people between April and December 2021 with extreme gambling addiction issues were sent to NHS gambling clinics as opposed to 575 during the same period in 2020, recording a 16.2% increase.
In general, approximately 0.5% of the UK adult population, amounting to around 246,000 people, likely have some type of gambling addiction and 2.2 million are at risk of developing it.