Suicide rates fall but many people with mental health problems are still calling for help

PUBLISHED: 09:00 20 May 2017

Members of the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership in the Sovereign Centre.

Members of the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership in the Sovereign Centre.


Two groups in North Somerset have teamed up to tackle the rising number of cries for help from people with mental health problems.

The Weston and North Somerset branch of the Samaritans and Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (MHP) joined forces during Mental Health Awareness Week to raise awareness of the different support systems in place across the county for people with mental illnesses.

The number of suicides in North Somerset has fallen between 2008 and 2015, yet there has been an increase in the number of calls made to the Samaritans in the past few years.

A branch spokesman said: “The majority of people who call us with emotional problems are suffering from mental health issues.

“We have noticed this proportion has significantly increased in North Somerset in recent years, with rising pressure and under-spending on mental health services being the primary causes.”

The Samaritans, in Weston’s High Street, answer 915 calls a month on average and more than 11,000 calls a year.

There were 74 recorded suicides in North Somerset between 2008 and 2010 however this dropped to 48 deaths between 2013 and 2015.

Statistics from North Somerset Council showed males are twice as likely to take their own life than females, with only 33 per cent of suicides last year being women.

The Samaritans and the MHP set up a booth in the Sovereign Shopping Centre, in High Street, last week to speak to shoppers about what mental health support is on offer.

Dr Tiff Earle, a consultant psychiatrist, said: “Suicide is devastating for all those involved. However it is not inevitable for people who have suicidal thoughts and by communities, voluntary organisations and the NHS working together we can make a big difference.

“An important step is making people aware of what help is available. Mental health awareness week is a good opportunity to get the message across.”

The two groups are also part of the Suicide Prevention Steering Group, which has set up a bereavement support group for people who have been touched by suicide in one way or another.

To become a volunteer with the Samaritans, visit or email

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