The link between socio-economic deprivation and increased risk of suicide is well established. Previous academic studies have shown us, for example, that men from the lowest socio-economic group living in the most deprived areas are at greater risk of suicide than those in the most affluent group living in the most affluent areas. Every local area in Wales has a unique geography, economy, and population. It follows that a profile of deprivation and associated suicide risk will also vary between local populations.
The breadth of complex factors involved in suicide risk highlights the need for multi-agency and cross-governmental action. This is not a single task for any particular organisation or sector in isolation. It is instead, a local and national imperative and one that should be seen as a major and urgent priority in the national public health agenda in Wales. We must be able to give people the best chance to turn their lives around when they are struggling.
In Wales, we work to reduce suicide across our nation. We reach out to high risk groups and communities, we work in partnership with prisons, schools, hospitals and rail staff and we engage with Welsh Government and the National Assembly to influence policy and legislation.
Our nine branches manage our emotional support service, reach out into their local communities and support those who are struggling to cope round the clock, every day of the year. The demand for our service is ever increasing - last year, we took a call every three minutes. None of this would be possible without the time and dedication of our volunteers.
Samaritans believes there is a significant need to increase awareness of the power of talking and of human empathy. To do this, we must challenge our current culture which may prevent help-seeking among the UK population when we need it due to shame or stigma. Everyone has moments in their life where they struggle to cope and we believe that if given the time and space to talk things through, people can often find a way through their problems. Last year, almost 275,000 callers trusted us enough to help them through a tough time over the phone.
Suicide reduction requires an approach which promotes good mental health and wellbeing, timely support, public awareness and which reduces inequality. We have welcomed the second phase of the Welsh Government’s suicide and self harm prevention strategy and action plan: Talk to Me 2. The existence of such plans, and their effective implementation, is vital for efforts to reduce suicide. However, we need to act more strongly and consistently across Wales to tackle suicide rates. The work required to make this happen supports other policy ambitions to increase the resilience and safety of communities, to increase public awareness around help-seeking and to improve access to mental health services and talking therapies.
We are committed to reaching as many people as possible who may be struggling to cope and our 2015/16 Impact Report demonstrates how we do this.