Samaritans unveils four steps to reduce suicide in Wales

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Samaritans in Wales has today launched its manifesto for the National Assembly for Wales Elections 2016, ‘Four Steps to Save Lives’.

The Manifesto aims to identify the best ways of reducing suicide in Wales, and is launching during Men’s Health Week, a UK-wide campaign which focuses on healthy living for men.

Latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show there were 393 suicides in those aged 15 and over in Wales in 2013; a rise of 59 deaths since 2012. The suicide rate for men is at its highest since 1981, with a 23 per cent rise between 2012 and 2013. In Wales, the male suicide rate has been significantly higher than the rate in England since 2010. The figures also show that suicide is the leading cause of death for 20-34 year olds.

The charity is calling on the Assembly to take four steps to tackle rising suicide rates and improve the mental health and wellbeing of communities across Wales. The steps set out the need to promote mental health, embed suicide prevention plans in local communities, tackle alcohol misuse and support Samaritans to make their telephone service free.

Samaritans is asking the Assembly to introduce a minimum unit pricing policy for alcohol, to explore ways of ensuring  young people between the ages of 16 and 18 are supported in education and to challenge mental health stigma by supporting and co-ordinating campaigns specifically targeted at men.

Sarah Stone, Executive Director for Wales said:

‘While causes of suicide are complex, we do know that there are factors which increase the risk for specific groups and individuals.  These factors include deprivation, being a man and alcohol misuse.   Reducing suicide requires a wide range of agencies to work together nationally and in local communities, to give people the best chance to turn their lives around when they are struggling.

We need an approach which promotes mental health and wellbeing, timely support, public awareness and which reduces inequality. The work required to make this happen supports other policy ambitions to increase the resilience of communities, to increase public awareness and to improve access to mental health services.’

Samaritans in Wales have welcomed the second phase of the Welsh Government’s Suicide and Self Harm Prevention Strategy and Action Plan, Talk to me 2 and believes the existence of such plans, and their effective implementation, is vital for efforts to reduce suicide.

Samaritans believes  that a significant difference can be made to the rate of suicide and to find ways to respond to people in distress by working together, locally and nationally, to achieve real change in Wales.

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For more information about the work of Samaritans Cymru, please contact the Press team on: 029 2022 2008 or email e.harris@samaritans.org

Notes to editors