BLACKBURN with Darwen has had the highest number of suicides in East Lancashire in the last 14 years, government statistics have revealed.

Daunting figures which paint the borough as a suicide blackspot have sparked concerns from doctors.

The Office for National Statistics report has revealed that 240 people have taken their lives in Blackburn with Darwen between 2002 and 2016, more than double some East Lancashire boroughs.

In Hyndburn that figure was 134 and in Pendle it was 124, followed by Burnley with 115 and Rossendale with 108.

Ribble Valley had the lowest number of suicides at 77 since 2002.

It means that 798 have killed themselves in East Lancashire since 2002, although the data does show a decline in the number of suicides, with 57 recorded in 2002 compared to 47 in 2016.

Dr Paul Fourie, of Witton Medical Centre, Blackburn, blamed unemployment for ‘high rates’ of depression, which can lead to suicide.

He said; “There is a lot of depression in the area due to high unemployment and a lack of opportunity caused by deprivation.

“There are lots of problems with people being taken off benefits which puts a lot of pressure on them.”

David Wrigley, Lancashire’s representative on the British Medical Association, said the number of counsellors and psychiatrists to help people with mental health problems was ‘woefully inadequate’.

He said: “Every suicide is a tragedy. Waiting times are far too long for talking therapies and counselling to treat mental health and prevent potential suicides due to the woefully inadequate number of counsellors and psychiatrists.”

A spokesman for charity Samaritans, which provides emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide, said it is ‘really important’ people realise there is help for them if they are struggling.

The spokesman said:.”Samaritans volunteers in Blackburn are available anytime, and you can call them free from any phone, on 116 123, as well as contacting them by email, via or you can go to the branch at 105 New Park Street for face-to-face help.”

A spokesman from Lancashire Care, the main mental health organisation in the county, said: “Reducing suicide is a priority for all partners within the Lancashire and South Cumbria health economy and funding has been secured for a range of suicide reduction initiatives across the public sector to raise awareness and prevent suicide.”

Lancashire and South Cumbria is one of eight regions set to benefit from a suicide prevention funding boost.

Over a three-year period, £25 million will help suicide prevention and reduction schemes across the country.