8:10am Wednesday 3rd April 2013
By Paul Broome
A SUICIDE prevention plan is being drawn up in Worcestershire as it is revealed more than 50,000 county adults and almost 10,000 youngsters suffer from mental health problems.
Figures released by Worcestershire County Council show about 50 suicides have been recorded in the county each year over the past two decades, with more than 50,000 adults in the area currently suffering from some form of mental health problem.
In drawing up the Mental Wellbeing and Suicide Prevention Plan with its partners, Worcestershire County Council said it wants to improve the mental wellbeing of people.
A recent awareness event, jointly organised by the authority and the Samaritans, was attended by the NHS, police and voluntary sector representatives.
“Mental health is one of our key priorities for the county and this event was held to raise awareness, gain greater understanding of the issues and develop relationships between a variety of stakeholders so we can work together to tackle the issues,” said Dr Richard Harling, director of public health.
“In Worcestershire, one in eight adults have some form of mental health problem and some 10 per cent (9,500) of five to 16-year-olds have mental health problems.
“In the county, we have had about 50 deaths a year from suicide over the past 20 years and we would like to work with our communities to improve mental wellbeing and reduce suicides.
“At the event, people held a range of discussions and then came up with ideas.
“These included tackling depression and loneliness, reducing drug and alcohol dependence, early identification of signs that someone might take their life, and support for bereaved relatives.”
The plan will be devised by the council and its partners before being presented to the county’s Health and Wellbeing Board for approval.
A Worcester Samaritans spokesman said: “Anyone can experience suicidal thoughts, for example due to finances, the death of a loved one or a relationship breakdown but there is always hope and there is always help. We need to overcome stigmas associated with mental health issues and create a culture where people can and will seek help.”
According to the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) latest figures, Worcestershire is in the top half of regions where people take their own life.
The ONS lists the number of deaths in 2011 per local authority “where suicide was the underlying cause”.
In Worcestershire, 46 deaths were recorded in this way. The worst area was Leeds, which saw 67 suicide-related deaths, while the Derbyshire Dales saw just one.
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