Gambling addicts are 15 times more likely to commit suicide, new research has revealed, prompting calls for the Government to intervene.
Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) said the findings from the Swedish study were a 'wake-up call' to the Government to confront the growing problem of gambling addiction in the UK.
Researchers at Lund University examined the mental health of 2,000 people with a gambling disorder over a period of 11 years and found that suicide rates were 15 times higher than the rest of the population.
The likelihood of suicide was even more acute among men, with male gambling addicts between the ages of 20- and 49-years-old being 19 times more likely to take their own life than the general population.
CARE spokesman James Mildred said the figures were 'extremely shocking' and that it was likely the situation would get worse unless more was done to help problem gamblers.
There is only one specialist gambling clinic in the UK located in London, although plans are afoot to open a second this year in Leeds. However, Mr Mildred said that current provision was 'clearly not enough' and that the lack of help on the NHS was a 'major issue'.
We know that there are many gambling-related suicides in the UK - but we need high quality, independent research to find out what is actually happening, so we can help those afflicted by gambling addiction. https://t.co/bSjAsIaQhe— Alan Smith (@BishopStAlbans) March 13, 2019
'We need to recognise that often the factors behind a suicide are multi-layered, rather than isolated to one particular reason,' he said.
'However, given what we know about the scale of problem gambling and the suicide rates in the UK it is absolutely reasonable to draw a link between the two.
'There are estimated to be more than two million adults across Great Britain who have a gambling problem or are at risk of developing one.
'We also know there are thought to be hundreds of thousands of children gambling on a regular basis.'
He added: 'We are facing a problem gambling epidemic and if we fail to act, the situation is likely to get far worse.'