Welcome drop in suicide rate

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SUICIDES in Wigan have dropped by more than 10 per cent, bucking a worrying national trend.

The latest statistics show that 98 people took their own life in the three-year period of 2011 and 2013, which has fallen from 109 between 2010 to 2012.

The figures show a more positive trend compared to national figures where there is a four per cent increase.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that in 2013, 6,233 suicides were registered in the UK; a rate of 11.9 per 100,000 people.

The male suicide rate is the highest since 2001, and suicides among middle aged men aged 45 to 59 are at 25.1 per 100,000 which is the highest rate for this group since 1981.

Wigan Samaritans, based in Dicconson Street, provides a 24-hour helpline for people who are feeling depressed, anxious or lonely.

Joe Ferns, Samaritans’ executive director of policy, research and development, said: “The news that suicide rates increased in 2013 is sadly not surprising to us given the context of a challenging economic environment and the social impact that brings.

“We need to see a greater focus at local and regional levels on the co-ordination and prioritisation of suicide prevention activity especially in areas with high socio-economic deprivation.

“The excessive risk of suicide in men at mid-life continues to be a concern. The rate for this group has now reached its highest level for more than 30 years and these figures cannot be ignored.

“The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Suicide Prevention and Self-Harm recently reported on how varied local suicide prevention activity can be. It found that around a third of local authorities do not collect information about suicide, do not have a suicide prevention action plan, or a multi-agency suicide prevention group. This is an issue which needs to be urgently addressed in the context of rising rates.”

Prof Kate Ardern, director for public health at Wigan Council, said: “Wigan Council endorses the recommendations made by the All-Party Parliamentary Group.

“The council has already started collecting its own data about suicide to ensure that our action plan addresses the local issues, as recommended by Public Health England.

“Using this local information, we’re currently in the process of producing a borough-wide suicide prevention action plan, in collaboration with key partners, including the NHS and local voluntary organisations. Through this approach we’re hoping to continue reducing suicide rates in the borough.”

A spokesman from 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust said: “We are taking action to address these issues and help to reduce suicide rates. A team of more than 20 consultants from the trust have been working to develop our 5-year Suicide Reduction Strategy, which aims to ensure that vulnerable people in the care of mental health and social care who are at risk of suicide are supported and kept safe from preventable harm.

“The strategy will also enable us to ensure we can intervene quickly when someone is in distress or in crisis.”