Suicide rates must improve

PUBLISHED: 10:00 12 April 2015

Samaritans

Samaritans

Archant

MENTAL health support without 'shame or stigma' is desperately needed to help reduce suicide rates among men in Weston.

The South West has the third-highest suicide rate in the country, with 12.5 of every 100,000 deaths found to be as a result of suicide and a Weston charity says it believes men in the town are particularly at risk of depression, especially in poorer areas.

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show the number of suicides in the UK has gone up from 5,981 in 2012 to 6,233 in 2013. The picture was similar in the South West, as 560 suicides occurred in the region in 2013, 40 more than in the previous year.

The male suicide rate is the highest it has been since 2001, while suicides in men aged 45-59 are higher than since 1981.

A spokesman for the Weston branch of Samaritans said: “The news that suicide rates have increased is sadly not surprising to us.

“We need to see a greater focus at local level in North Somerset on the co-ordination of suicide prevention activity especially in areas with high socio-economic deprivation.”

A Samaritans’ study shows men living in deprived areas are 10 times more likely to commit suicide than those in affluent areas.

North Somerset Council does not have a suicide prevention plan or a multi-agency suicide prevention group, according to a Government report – though the authority says they are being developed.

Chairman of the National Suicide Prevention Advisory Group professor Louis Appleby said: “Men are more at risk of suicide because they are more likely to drink heavily, use self-harm methods that are more often fatal and are reluctant to seek help.

“Fifteen years ago the rates among men under 35 were brought down sharply by tackling these problems and we need to use this success to address the problems of the new highest risk group, middle-aged men.

“We need to make it easier for men to find help without shame or stigma.”

To contact Weston Samaritans, call 01934 632555.

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