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Call for more help to prevent teenage suicides

Suicide is the biggest cause of death among young people, claiming four young lives every day.

And here in the North West we have the highest suicide rate in the country.

This year alone we've seen a spate of young people apparently killing themselves - one of them was only 12.

Tonight - in the first of two special reports, our correspondent Mel Barham has been looking into why this problem is so prevalent and just how it's affecting the North West.

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How one North West family hope their tragedy will help prevent others suffering the same pain

by Mel Barham

It is the leading cause of death in young people - with four young lives lost to suicide every single day.

Here in the North West we have the highest suicide rate in the country - and given the way such deaths are recorded at inquests, it's thought that figure could be even higher.

This year alone in the North West, there has been a worrying spate of young people and teenagers apparently taking their own lives.

The reason why the figures are so high here, isn't clear.

But for young people especially, there can be a whole host of triggers and being inexperienced in life, they are often ill-equipped to deal with such complex emotional issues.

Ben Fitchett.
Teenager Ben Fitchett.

Ben Fitchett, from Rochdale, was 14 when he took his own life.

His parents say he was a popular, fun-loving boy with a friend for every day of the year.

They say there was no sign anything was wrong; no warning of what he was about to do.

"There was absolutely no sign of anything being wrong, Ben was planning the future, there was nothing that made you think there was no tomorrow out of his life."

– Sarah Fitchett, Ben's mother.

The national suicide prevention charity Papyrus - based in Warrrington - is calling the figures of young suicides a national scandal.

Despite being the biggest killer of that age group, most people are unaware of just how bad the problem is.

Funding for charities like Papyrus is scarce and many young people in need of help are simply unaware of where to go.

Ben Fitchett.
Ben larking about during a family day out.

The Samaritans say many young people caught up in a spiral of despair, often lack the emotional maturity to realise the permanency of suicide.

That permanency is only too real for the families and loved ones left behind.

Ben's parents say they've been left heartbroken by their son's death.

"It's an emptiness, its painful."

– Sarah Fitchett, Ben's mother.

"I don't suppose they really think of the consequences and the effect it has on other people.

"You can understand at that lowest point that they're only thinking of themselves but the shock effect that hits everybody else afterwards is so traumatic.

"I think if he saw how much he was loved, I don't think he would have done it."

– Peter Fitchett, Ben's father.
Ben Fitchett.
Ben's parents said he was a fun loving boy.

The Fitchetts hope their story will prevent other young people going down the route of suicide.

They say it is never the answer, there is always help and always a solution.

By raising awareness of suicide, they hope to prevent another family going through the same pain that they are.

And for them, that means breaking down the stigma that is talking about suicide.

For more information, or to obtain help and support, visit the websites listed below:

  • Papyrus is the national UK charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide.

Call us on 0800 068 41 41, text 07786209697 or e-mail if you, or a young person you know is having thoughts of suicide.

  • The Samaritans provide confidential emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts.

Talk to us any time you like, off the record, about whatever’s getting to you.

Ben Fitchett.
Ben's parents said he had everything to live for.

Calls for more help to prevent teenage suicides

Smiling Ben Fitchett in the woods
14year old Ben Fitchett from Rochdale who took his own life Credit: ITV Granada

The North West has the highest rate of suicide in the country, with more YOUNG people taking their own lives.

Ben Fitchett from Rochdale was 14 year when he killed himself.

The charity Papyrus is warning more needs to be done to protect youngsters. Ben's parents said there weren't any warning signs.

Justice for the family of Rochdale aid worker murdered in Sri Lanka

A Sri Lankan politician and three other men have been jailed for a total of 80 years for the murder of Rochdale aid worker Khuram Shaikh.

The 32-year old was attacked while on holiday with his girlfriend in the resort of Tangelle on Christmas Day 2011.

The former council leader in Tangelle was given a 20 year sentence.

This report from Daniel Hewitt, who has followed this case from the start:

And Tony spoke to Nasser Shaikh, Khuram's brother, via Skype from the Sri Lankan capital Colombo.


Brother of Briton killed in Sri Lanka: 'Symbolic moment'

Nasser Shaikh, whose brother Khuram was murdered in Sri Lanka in 2011, said he hoped the legacy of his brother would continue. Mr Shaikh said the sentencing of Khuram's murderers is "a symbolic moment."

The 32-year old Red Cross worker from Rochdale was murdered at a southern tourist resort on Christmas Day 2011.

Read: Sri Lankan politician jailed for killing a British tourist


RSPCA appeal over fears cats "poisoned" in Rochdale


The RSPCA is appealing for information after three cats from the same neighbourhood in Rochdale died within hours of each other.

The three male cats, two ginger and one black and white, all lived at properties just five doors down from each other on Norton Road and Netley Avenue and were aged between 16 months and two years old.

One cat was found collapsed under a car, the second cat had died after a seizure in it’s garden while the third was found dead on the owner’s kitchen floor with froth and vomit around his mouth having suffered from a seizure sometime in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

"Due to the circumstances all three cats were found in we think they were poisoned.

"All three cats were discovered with froth around their mouths and had been perfectly healthy before they died.

"None of them had suffered any form of trauma either.

“It is so sad and must be a real shock for all the families.

"It is more than a coincidence that these three young cats all died within hours of each other in such a short distance apart.

“We do not yet know if this poisoning was a tragic accident or if it was a deliberate act but we would urge anyone with information to come forward.

“We would urge people to be very careful when using poisonous substances - such as slug pellets and anti-freeze - in their gardens or outside spaces.

“If of course this turns out to be deliberate poisoning then we need to stress that it is illegal to cause an animal to suffer in this way and anyone found guilty could face a maximum sentence of up to six months in prison and a £20,000 fine.”

– RSPCA inspector Catherine Byrnes.

Anyone with information about suspicious activity in the area should contact the RSPCA on 0300 123 8018.

Rochdale couple "starved" child of food

A man who deprived his ten-year-old step-daughter of food, causing her to become seriously unwell, has been jailed for three years.

The child's mother, who allowed the abuse to happen, was given a suspended sentence.

The couple cannot be identified for legal reasons.

Minshull Street crown Court.
Minshull Street crown Court.

"This is a tragic case and had the abuse continued much longer there is a very real possibility it could have cost this young girl her life.

"To knowingly inflict such abuse on a young, innocent and vulnerable child defies belief and goes against the very basic instincts of human nature.

"She is now in a loving, caring and nurturing environment but the abuse she has suffered will most likely stay with her for the rest of her life."

– Detective Inspector Caroline Ward, Greater Manchester Police

The girl was found collapsed and unresponsive on the bathroom floor of her then Rochdale home in April last year.

Ambulance crews said she was severely malnourished and had a distended abdomen, consistent with a child who has not been fed.

She also had gross nutritional deficiencies.

She told police how she had stopped being regularly fed, that she would be given food intermittently - including being fed raw potato peelings - and would not be able to eat with the rest of the family, claims that were verified by siblings.

Photographs were taken of the home address and a room believed to be the victim's showed no clothes or possessions.

There were toys and electrical equipment for other children at the address.

The girl also disclosed how, shortly after being admitted to hospital, her mother had said that if she did not tell anyone about her home life then it would not happen again and she would get fed every day and would even be given "pudding and custard".

The victim's 32-year-old stepfather admitted causing a child to suffer serious physical harm and was sentenced to three years in prison at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court.

His partner and the child's mother, a 30-year-old woman, admitted allowing a child to suffer serious physical harm and was given a 15 month suspended prison sentence.

Detective Inspector Caroline Ward, of Greater Manchester Police, said it was a tragic case.


Killed Briton's brother: Today is 'a symbolic moment'

The family of Khuram Shaikh, the Briton murdered in Sri Lanka in 2011, said today's sentencing of Mr Shaikh's killers is "a symbolic moment."

"Those who killed my brother have been punished and are now behind bars for a long time," said the victim's elder brother Nasser Shaikh.

Today, the country has done what many people hoped and prayed for. Those who killed my brother have been punished and are now behind bars for a long time. Our campaign was not only about justice, but to bring awareness of the wonderful work my brother did around the world, working in humanitarian aid. He is a true inspiration for many and we hope his legacy continues with those he left behind.

– Nasser Shaikh, brother of Khuram Shaikh

The 32-year old Red Cross worker from Rochdale was murdered at a southern tourist resort on Christmas Day 2011.

Read: Sri Lankan politician jailed for killing a British tourist

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