Bishop seeks law change to recognise role of gambling in suicide

(Photo: Unsplash/Kaysha)

The Bishop of St Albans is seeking a change to the law on inquests so that gambling addiction is noted as a factor if someone has taken their own life. 

Dr Alan Smith, a longtime campaigner for gambling reform, wants the law changed so that coroners must record gambling addiction as being among the circumstances in which the suicide has taken place. 

The bishop has introduced a Private Members' Bill to the House of Lords in the hopes that the information such a change could bring to light would "shock policy makers from their complacency and help to stop our society from continuing to sleepwalk through this crisis".

He said that at present there was no accurate or up-to-date data linking gambling with suicide, and that the desire of families affected by gambling suicide to see the Government take action "has often been stymied", the bishop said. 

The lack of data, he continued, has played into the Government and industry "making slow progress in reducing harm". 

The Coroners (Determination of Suicide) Bill 2020 had its first reading on Thursday. 

He said: "I have introduced this common-sense piece of legislation so the Government can begin to get a handle on the consequences of gambling-related harm.

"This new legislation will mean, for the first time, each instance where gambling is a factor in suicide coroners will record it in conclusions.

"I have met far too many families whose lives have been destroyed by the loss of a loved one, often young adults who have their entire lives ahead of them."

He added: "For the first time we would have annually available, accurate records showing gambling as a cause in every suicide in the country."