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Mr Javid’s brother, Tariq, a 51-year-old supermarket chain boss, took his own life while the Tory minister was serving as home secretary.
Opening up about his brother’s death, Mr Javid said he still wonders “maybe I could have made a difference”, adding: “I guess I will never know the answer to that.”
In July 2018, Mr Javid’s brother Tariq took his own life at a hotel in Horsham, West Sussex. He had left two suicide notes, including one that told Sylvia, his partner of 15 years, that she should “carry on and enjoy life”.
Speaking as he visited the London headquarters of suicide prevention charity Papyrus on Friday, the health secretary said: “This is something that is deeply personal to me - there are too many families that are left incomplete and too much potential has gone unfulfilled.”
The health secretary expressed his own regret at what happened to his brother, telling The Sunday Times: “We learned afterwards that he had a physical health problem that he hadn’t told anyone about . . . and if we had just known, if he had talked to us, perhaps we could have done something.
“So you think about that. Maybe I could have made a difference. And I guess I will never know the answer to that.”
Mr Javid announced that the government would be publishing a new 10-year suicide prevention plan, including a suicide surveillance programme that will look out for patterns that put people at risk. The effect of social media will also be examined as part of the plan.
The government has also pledged that by 2023-24 anyone in the country can dial NHS 111 to contact a local mental health team for around-the-clock support.
Mr Javid said: “I was very busy at the time. I was home secretary and there was a lot going on but I do think about what more I could have done to make more time for my brother and talk to him in the way that we used to talk when we were children.”
He added: “As children and young adults we talked about everything — good things and bad things — girlfriends, doing badly at exams and who was going to tell Dad.
“We were close brothers but as you grow older and you move away from home it becomes harder and certainly one of the lessons I have learned is to make time for your loved ones.”
Suicide in England and Wales is three times more common among men than among women. In 2021 there were more than 5,000 suicides registered in England.
If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit samaritans.org