Dozens of suicide deaths registered in Somerset
By Susie Watkins
12th Feb 2024 | Local News
Somerset registered 45 suicide deaths in 2022, showing a decrease from the 78 recorded in 2021 and 68 in 2020.
Mental health charities are continuing to call for substantial investment, stressing that preventable deaths will continue without it.
The decrease in Somerset contrasts with a slight increase in suicide deaths across England and Wales, where the total rose from 5,583 to 5,642 in 2022. However, the suicide rate per 100,000 people has remained stable at 10.7. Over the last three years, Somerset's suicide rate has averaged at 12.7 deaths per 100,000 people, a slight decrease from the 12.9 rate observed in the three years leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Suicide deaths are recorded based on the year they were registered, which can often be months or years following the inquest, reflecting a delay in the official figures.
In response to the ongoing crisis, the Government released a five-year suicide prevention strategy in September, promising to enhance support for individuals who self-harm and those bereaved by suicide. The strategy also aims to address harmful digital content related to suicide and promote online safety.
However, Julie Bentley, CEO of Samaritans said "a more ambitious approach to suicide prevention" was needed.Ms Bentley warned the strategy "will only take us so far without investment at both a national and local level".
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity SANE, welcomed the new strategy, saying over half of all calls to their helpline now mention suicide.
She said more than a third of suicides could be prevented if people were given help and treatment before they reached crisis point.
Ms Wallace added: "With psychiatric services in many places struggling to cope with demand, it is paramount that resources are made available to back up the plans set out in this strategy, so that professional support can be made available to those at risk of suicide."
Lourdes Colclough, head of suicide prevention at Rethink Mental Illness, said there was rarely one single trigger for suicide, but financial issues, social isolation, housing insecurity and problems at work, school, or home are among the common factors.
She added: "We can't lose sight of the fact that suicide is preventable, and key to this is more work from the Government to tackle the drivers of mental ill-health."
A spokesperson for the Department for Health and Social Care said its new strategy includes more than 100 measures, with a focus on prevention and earlier intervention.
They added: "In August, the Government also launched a £10 million fund for the voluntary sector in England to carry out crucial work to prevent suicides and save lives.
"We're also investing £2.3 billion extra a year into mental health services to help an additional two million people access NHS-funded mental health support by 2024."
- For anyone struggling or in need of support, Samaritans can be contacted for free at any time on 116 123 or via their website at www.samaritans.org.