1 in 5 adults in Wales feel lonely or isolated says Samaritans Cymru
Samaritans Cymru have released new survey results on loneliness and isolation in Wales ahead of their evidence session with the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee today. The evidence is part of the Assembly Inquiry into Suicide Prevention in Wales.
In their initial evidence, Samaritans Cymru highlighted a number of risk factors for suicide, including both loneliness and isolation. Samaritans Cymru have previously highlighted that loneliness and isolation can have a serious impact on physical and mental health and are a risk factor for suicidal behaviour and suicide; it is one of the most common reasons that people call their helpline in the UK.
As Samaritans Cymru prepare for their evidence session with the Health Committee today, they have released new data from their 2017 survey which explored social connection in Wales. The survey found that 1 in 5 adults in Wales agree that they often felt lonely or isolated. The survey also found that those living in areas in areas of socioeconomic disadvantage were the most likely to feel lonely or isolated.
The findings coincide with a recent Samaritans Cymru report which identified the link between suicide and poverty in Wales. Samaritans evidence showed that suicide rates are 2 to 3 times higher in the most deprived communities compared to the most affluent. In the report, Samaritans Cymru called for investment in community groups and outreach which can help to alleviate loneliness and isolation in our most deprived communities.
The report stated that having low social support, disconnectedness and a lack of social integration increase the likelihood of suicidal behaviour. Those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged often experience lower levels of social support which puts them at greater risk of suicide.
Sarah Stone, Executive Director for Samaritans in Wales said –
“The findings presented in this research reiterate that both loneliness and isolation in Wales are major public health issues. Alongside our research which identifies the strong link between suicide and poverty, we intend to make the case for urgent action. Loneliness can have a major impact on mental health and is a risk factor for suicide.
We welcomed the recommendations of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee’s report into Loneliness and Isolation in 2017, and Welsh Government’s response. However, it is crucial that the development of the Welsh Government strategy to address loneliness and isolation remains high on the agenda. A national awareness campaign, one which highlights the issue across all age groups, with clear information on the help that’s available, is also of the upmost importance”
Among other key recommendations surrounding suicide prevention in Wales, Samaritans Cymru will today reiterate how community groups must be seen as a form of prevention and early intervention for loneliness, isolation and low social support in Wales. They have previously stated that this call is particularly urgent with the closure of Communities First groups and networks in Wales.
- Samaritans Cymru report ‘Socioeconomic disadvantage and suicidal behaviour: Finding a way forward for Wales’ is available to download at www.samaritans.org/wales
- Wales Omnibus Survey prepared by Beaufort Research June 2017
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