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Cornwall's suicide rate among the highest in UK

Cornwall's suicide rate among the highest in UK

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 7:00am 27th October 2019. (Updated at 9:08am 27th October 2019)

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Richard Whitehouse, and Emma Carton

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have been shown to have one of the highest suicide rates in the country with more than person a week ending their lives.

A report going to councillors next week shows the suicide rate in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly being 50% higher than the national average.

There have been, on average, 71 suicides recorded each year for the past three years, giving Cornwall a suicide rate of 14.5 per 100,000 population – the national average is 9.6 per 100,000. The rate for the South West is 10.6.

And the report states that approximately 200 people a month attend the emergency department at Royal Cornwall Hospital following self injury or self harm.

A Multi-Agency Suicide Prevention Group has been set up with representatives from health, social care, emergency services, voluntary organisations and people who have been affected by suicide themselves.

mental health

A report going to Cornwall Council’s health and adult social care overview and scrutiny committee next week states:

“This group helps determine our collective suicide prevention activities and oversees delivery to identify any gaps in provision and monitor progress.

"Specific activity includes campaigns aimed at destigmatising mental health ill health problems and encouraging more compassionate and caring communities, increased awareness of suicide risks within primary and secondary care and a greater use of safety plans for individuals who may be vulnerable to mental ill health.

"The group has also overseen specific work with the farming and fishing communities, people who have self-harmed and people with recognised mental ill health.”

The report also details the support available to families and friends of people who take their own lives.

“We have established a real-time suicide surveillance process which ensures timely notification of all possible suicides so we can put in place immediate postvention support for families and friends.

“This is vital as there is evidence that people who have a close relative or friend die by suicide are themselves at greater risk of suiciding in the future.”

abuse rape depression

Analysis of those who have died by suicide shows that around a third will have recently been in contact with mental health services, a third will have recently seen their GP or other primary care provider and a third will have had no contact with health services in the time leading up to their death.

A number of targeted prevention initiatives are detailed in the report including the specific work targeting people working in the farming and fishing industries who are considered to be at risk of increased vulnerability.

Work is also being done in sixth form colleges and university campuses to ensure students are well supported with their mental wellbeing and mental ill health.

A structured physical exercise programme has been launched for men with poor mental health which includes mental health training for sports coaches.

Extra support has also been put in place for people going to A&E following self injury and self harm with a 24/7 psychiatric liaison service providing assessments and helping people access support services.

The report on the suicide prevention work is set to go before the committee when it meets on Wednesday.

Where can I go to get help?

Cornwall Council has recently produced a special "How are you really feeling?" leaflet and more than 20,000 have been distributed with another 10,000 due to be sent out.

The leaflet again encourages people to speak about their mental health and also ask about the wellbeing of others as well as providing links and contacts to support services.

Cornwall Council's 'How Are You Really Feeling?' website has a load of advice if you are struggling.

'Man Down - Supporting Men's Mental Health' is another group which offers support: Read more.

You can also call the Samaritans for confidential advice and support on 116 123: Read more on their website

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