Suicide probe

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WIGAN Council is to investigate alarming rates of suicide in the borough.

Councillors have agreed to plans to explore why worrying numbers of local people – particularly young men – have taken their own lives in recent years.

Figures reveal there were 28 suicides recorded in the borough in 2008 – the third highest in the North West, and the fifth highest nationally.

And despite the number of recorded suicides falling to 24 last year, there are growing concerns that financial stresses facing many in the borough could be contributing to the crisis.

The move comes as the RFL launched a new campaign to encourage people to talk about mental health in the sport, following the tragic death of Wigan star Terry Newton.

Emma McGurrin, councillor for Standish with Langtree, called for the council investigation following two deaths in her ward.

Addressing the chamber, Coun McGurrin said: “There is a silent crisis waiting to happen across the borough. Two young men committed suicide in my ward within three weeks and, having met their families, it is clear this is a growing trend, particularly among young men.

“It can often be those who have been refused access to children after a relationship breakdown, or young men who take their own lives within weeks of being made unemployed.”

The motion was given backing by councillors, and Wigan Metro will now look at measures to reduce suicides in the borough.

A spokesman for Ashton, Leigh and Wigan Primary Care Trust (ALWPCT) said: “The PCT fully supports the authority’s investigation into deaths from suicide within the borough.

“We know some groups of people are more vulnerable and more likely to take their own lives. Factors which are associated with increased risk of suicide include loneliness, depression, living alone, unemployment and social deprivation.”

The PCT says groups at higher risk of suicide include drug or alcohol users, those involved with the criminal justice system and some occupation groups, such as doctors.