NEW figures showed an increase in the ‘suicide rate’ of mental health patients in Lancashire over the last eight years.

And it is feared the on-going financial crisis could be to blame.

There was a three-fold increase in the number of patients committing suicide from 2004 to 2012, but this was set against a huge rise in referrals to Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust [LCFT].

In 2004, there were 28 patients who killed themselves, while, or within 12 months of receiving treatment from the trust, which increased steadily over the next eight years, reaching 79 in 2012.

The number of ‘open referrals’ doubled in the same period, to 88,000, meaning the suicide rate increased from 0.06 per cent to 0.09 per cent.

There was a large jump in suicides between 2011 and 2012, from 54 to 79, which mirrored a national trend which has been attributed to the effects of the financial crisis.

The figures were obtained by the Lancashire Telegraph through Freedom of Information laws.

Professor Max Marshall, medical director at LCFT, said: “It is extremely tragic when a person takes their own life, one suicide is one too many and at the trust we are committed to trying to prevent suicides as far as possible.

“Sadly, in some cases this isn’t always possible. Some of the people we see are very unwell with complex problems and unpredictable patterns of behaviour.

“We also care for people in environments were suicide can be more prevalent such as prisons and secure services.

“The number of suicides has increased nationally over the last three or four years. There is evidence to suggest that this is due to the on-going financial crisis.”