With over 300 suicide deaths per year in Wales 'Help is at Hand'

Hundreds of people die by suicide every year in Wales but help is now at hand in the form of a useful guide launched today.

Bereavement by suicide or other sudden unexplained death can be particularly difficult for people, who often need both practical and emotional support in dealing with their loss.

Help is at Hand Cymru has been produced as a useful self-help guide for people living and working in Wales. The guide includes sections on practical matters, experiencing bereavement, sources of support and how friends and colleagues can help. It will be sent to various people who come into contact with those bereaved through suicide such as funeral directors, General Practitioners, the police and coroner’s officers and it will be available free of charge on the Public Health Wales website.

Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services launched the new Wales version of the publication and renowned Professor Keith Hawton from the Centre for Suicide Research, University of Oxford  spoke at the launch about the history of the original Help is at Hand guide. Professor Hawton, who is also Consultant Psychiatrist with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and Professor of Psychiatry at Oxford University, has been working in the field of research into suicide and deliberate self-harm for more than 35 years.

Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services said:

“I would like to congratulate Public Health Wales and the National Advisory Group on Suicide for developing this excellent resource. It will provide invaluable solace and support to those who need it the most – those who find themselves in the tragic position of having lost a loved one through suicide.

“I am also pleased that the guide contains a section offering help for healthcare professionals as well. They too – nurses, GPs, psychiatrists and ambulance staff – can be affected by such deaths and it is right they have access to support. It can be equally demanding for our frontline staff to support those bereaved and many need help doing so.

“I am grateful to experts such as Professor Keith Lloyd, Head of the College of Medicine and Dr  Ann John from Swansea University who are driving forward research in this area. Without their tireless efforts and the wider work of both the Advisory Group and Swansea University’s Research and Development arm, we in Wales wouldn’t be taking such a lead in developing suicide-related policy."

Dr Ann John, Clinical Associate Professor in Public Mental Health at Swansea University and Public Health Wales lead for suicide prevention said:

“There are around 300 suicide deaths a year in Wales and for each one of these, it has been suggested, on average six people are deeply affected. These include family, friends and colleagues together with members of the public and professionals involved. People bereaved by suicide often need considerable support but may find it difficult to seek or obtain help. The booklet is a self-help resource developed for people bereaved through suicide or other unexplained death and for those helping them."

Papyrus Chairman Stephen Habgood said:

"As a parent I was disappointed not to be given any supportive literature when my son took his own life. Having subsequently been aware of Help is at Hand I know I would have found it extremely helpful. As a former Welsh clergyman and now Chairman of PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide I know that many of our members have found the resource extremely beneficial and I am delighted that it is being extended to the Welsh community."

Dick Moore, formerly an English teacher, rugby coach and, for nearly 23 years, a headmaster recently spoke on BBC Radio 4's Four Thought (Wednesday 12 June) about losing his son through suicide and wrote to Dr John saying;

"The storms of life throw all sorts of bad things at us. By and large we cope. The suicide of someone we love is as about as bad as it gets, but even then it is possible to enjoy life again, even though the waves of grief never recede completely. It is all about the support of friends, of professionals and even of complete strangers but that help is sometimes hard to find. This initiative of Help is at Hand is fantastic and timely. It may help those who are trying to find shelter from the storms of grief to learn to dance in the rain."

An edited version of the Radio programme is available on the BBC website.

Download Help is at Hand Cymru. For more information visit the Public Health Wales website.

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