Cornwall has one of the highest rates of suicide in the country, new figures reveal.
Statistics from the Office for National Statistics show that a total of 234 people in the area took their own lives between 2014 and 2016.
That works out as 16 suicides for every 100,000 people living in Cornwall – the third highest rate in the country – and much higher than the national average.
Across England 14,277 people took their own lives over the same three year period – around 10 for every 100,000 people in the country.
The high rate in Cornwall is partly due to a record high number of suicides seen in 2014, when 85 people in the area took their own lives.
The number of these deaths also rose in the last year – in 2016, 78 people in Cornwall took their own lives, compared to 71 the year before.
In comparison, the number of self-inflicted deaths fell nationally over the same 12 months, from 4,820 in 2015 to 4,575 last year.
Cornwall has the joint third highest suicide rate behind Middlesbrough and Corby.
Meanwhile a new public health campaign launching today ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day hopes to encourage people to talk more openly about mental health and potentially save their life in the process.
The ‘How Are You Really Feeling’ campaign aims to reduce the stigma of talking about mental health.
The Towards Zero Suicide collaborative has run a series of conferences in Truro over the last year, finding ways of working to reduce suicides towards zero. The campaign emerged from an idea at the conferences to create something to help reduce the stigma of mental health and get people talking about it more openly.
Dr Sara Roberts, consultant in public health for Cornwall Council, said “If you’re worried that someone you know may be considering suicide, try to encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. Listening is the best way to help. Try to avoid offering solutions and try not to judge.
“We really want to encourage people to start talking about mental health and how they feel as part of their everyday lives, and we want people to feel it’s OK to say you’re not OK.
“We’re asking communities to take up the offer of putting a box full of leaflets somewhere ‘normal’” such as a coffee shop, hairdresser, barber, petrol station or newsagent. We want talking about mental health to become a normal part of our day.
“Don’t worry if you don’t know what to say or how to begin a conversation – our leaflets give you some ideas of how to get started. And if the person you’re having a conversation with says “I’m not OK”, the reverse side of the leaflet has some top tips and ideas of where they can get help.”
Dr Ellen Wilkinson medical director for Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, added: ”People who survive a suicide attempt have said that if just one person had asked them if they were OK they wouldn’t have gone through with it. Just asking the question could be powerful enough to save a life.
“It’s not just about people who are feeling suicidal – this is about saying mental health is a core part of everyone’s wellbeing and encouraging people to talk about it.”
Some top tips from the campaign include supporting someone by telling them that they can talk to you without being judged, or that getting help will make it easier for them.
The campaign also includes 10 top things to do to improve mental health such as eating well, being physically active, doing something you enjoy, and asking for help.
If you think someone is at risk of suicide you should persuade them to speak to their GP who will be able to provide the right support.
You can find out more about the campaign at www.cornwall.gov.uk/howareyou.
If you need confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.
Originally posted by CornwallLive.com