Jackie Doyle-Price told the Thurrock Gazette in 2014: “I would sooner jump off Beachy Head than join UKIP.
“I am a Conservative. I have never run away from a fight and I am not going to start now. The stakes are too high.”
She was speaking after another Essex MP, Douglas Carswell, left the Tories to join UKIP.
Beachy Head in East Sussex is a notorious suicide spot, with around 20 people each year killing themselves by throwing themselves from the chalk cliffs.
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There are regular patrols in the area which try to find and persuade people planning to jump not to do so.
A Downing Street source said he was not aware of the comments, but added: “There is a serious job she will be taking forward in this very important new position.
“She will have access to some of the nearly £12bn that we already spend on mental health in this country and will want to ensure that services improve further to make sure that people in vulnerable situations get the support they need.”
Labour slammed the comments, with a senior spokesman saying: “Any comment which increases stigma or disrespect or lack of understanding for mental health issues – in particular in this case mental health issues and suicide – is obviously completely inappropriate.
“These kinds of comments are unacceptable.”
Ms Doyle-Price, who is already a health minister, will lead a national effort to try and end the stigma which prevents people from seeking help.
Approximately 4,500 people take their lives every year in England, with suicide the leading cause of death among men under the age of 45.
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As well as appointing Ms Doyle-Price, Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged up to £1.8m to make sure the Samaritans’ helpline remains free for the next four years.
:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.