A North East charity has welcomed a new national strategy to reduce the number of people who take their own lives.
The National Suicide Prevention Strategy, published today, aims to improve the support available to those at risk of suicide.
It is also pledging a particular focus on children and young people, middle-aged men, and autistic people, among others.
Figures show in recent years the North East has had the highest suicide rate in England.
County Durham-based charity If U Care Share says the strategy shines a light on the positive work already taking place in our region to prevent suicide - and hopes it will lead to more.
David Brown, from If U Care Share, said: "This is a cross-Government strategy and a cross-departmental strategy and I think that's where we're seeing that increase in work, recognising it's not just one person's responsibility, one organisation's responsibility.
“In the past organisations like mental health services and police might have held that responsibility but now it's about all of us. We know that we've had communities responding in the North East as it is.
“Organisations like ours were born out of that but it's that greater working together and resourcing what is needed to support people at a community level."
The measures in the strategy include a national alert system to notify bodies like schools and charities of emerging risks and trends when it comes to suicides.
Initiatives outlined in the document include:
– A national alert system to highlight new methods of suicide to schools, universities and charities and instruct how to react and safeguard people who could be affected.
– Medical experts to review whether reducing the number of paracetamol people can buy in shops could help bring down suicide rates.
– The Department for Education (DfE) to examine whether suicide and self-harm prevention should be part of the school curriculum.
– Half of schools in England to have mental health support teams in place by April 2025. The DfE will also offer all state schools and colleges funding to train a senior mental health lead by 2025.
– More support for bespoke services to help middle-aged men, who are at a higher risk of suicide. Ministers are also encouraging construction and manufacturing businesses to take extra steps to support workers, saying these male-dominated industries could do more to help employees.
– Ensuring pregnant women and new mothers get support at “every contact” with health professionals, who will be required to update a risk assessment at each appointment.
– Crisis text lines to be rolled out in all areas of England.
– A consultation on a potential tax for betting companies to fund “research, education and treatment of gambling harms”.
– More support for bereaved families.
Samaritans provides round-the-clock support for people when they need it most.
If U Care Share is a North East charity set up to listen and support emotional well being in young people and those affected by suicide.
You can call them on 0191 387 5661 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
They also have a 24/7 crisis messaging service, which you can access by texting IUCS to 85258.
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