Conservative MP breaks silence on suicide attempt during emotional House of Commons speech

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A Conservative MP has revealed in an emotional House of Commons speech that he tried to take his own life in 2021.

Elliot Colburn, who has represented Carshalton and Wallington since 2019, spoke during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Recalling his ordeal, he said: “In recent years something like six and a half thousand people die in the UK each year due to suicide and in 2021 I was nearly one of them.

“Luckily my attempt failed. I was found by family members quickly. I received amazing care at St Helier and Springfield hospitals, didn’t do any permanent damage, and was well looked after by the NHS in the months that followed.

“I want to take this chance to say thank you to everyone who saved me, and sorry to my family and loved ones who I put through such an awful ordeal.”

Mr Colburn began to tear up as he described his feelings in the period leading to his suicide attempt, saying that he “felt alone and scared and like there was no way out”.

Elliot Colburn said he'd made the attempt on his life in 2021 and used the speech to thank those who had helped him
Elliot Colburn said he'd made the attempt on his life in 2021 and used the speech to thank those who had helped him - JESSICA TAYLOR/UK PARLIAMENT

His colleagues applauded him after he said that he “didn’t recognise that man anymore”, with some shouting “here, here”.

Members could also be seen to reach over the pews and tap him on the shoulder in support.

Both gestures are unusual in the House and showed the strength of feeling following the speech.

Mr Colburn has previously been a vocal advocate for suicide prevention measures, but has never before spoken publicly about his suicide attempt three years ago.

In July 2020, he attended a roundtable hosted by Mind, the mental health charity, to discuss the impact of lockdown, and has raised the issue of waiting lists for mental health treatment alongside those for cancer and other physical illness.

Mr Colburn has in the past campaigned for additional funding for the St Helier hospital, where he was treated following his suicide attempt, and has worked for the NHS in the past.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Colburn added that “nothing is ever really worth” suicide, and that he had realised that “help really is out there and I’m pretty awesome”.

In response to Mr Colburn, Rishi Sunak said: “I know the whole House will join me in commending my honourable friend for his bravery in sharing his story.

“I can absolutely assure him that we take this issue incredibly seriously.

Members reached over the pews and tap Elliot Colburn on the shoulder in support
Members reached over the pews and tapped Elliot Colburn on the shoulder in support - JESSICA TAYLOR/UK PARLIAMENT

“The new suicide prevention strategy ensures that we will have the actions in place to reduce suicide over the next years because we absolutely recognise the impact that it has on people, their families.

“We should do everything we can to prevent that from happening.”

Sajid Javid, the former health secretary, and Wes Streeting, shadow health secretary, are among MPs who have since expressed their support for Mr Colburn on social media.

Mr Colburn has also campaigned on LGBT issues and is openly gay. He is in favour of a ban on conversion therapy that would protect both gay and transgender people.

In June 2021, he contacted the police after he and his partner received a letter containing homophobic slurs and a death threat.

He told the South West Londoner at the time that “whilst it was upsetting, sadly it wasn’t really a shock”.

He added that he “would be surprised if I got through my first term as an MP without receiving something of this nature”.

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