Cost of living crisis pushing people to consider suicide warns Somerset charity

  • Watch Katie Rowlett's report

A Somerset-based charity says the cost of living crisis is, in extreme circumstances, pushing those on a low incomes to consider suicide.

According to a new report from Christians Against Poverty (CAP), the average South West household is more than £15,000 in debt, which would take on average 29 years to repay.

The report found that some people in the region had 15 different organisations chasing them for payment.

Penny Smith who is from Nailsea says her life wasn't worth living six years ago. She was at a "point of despair" with mounting bills and no family to help her.

Penny Smith is now nearly debt free thanks to CAP.

Penny told ITV News: "I'd come through a really bad divorce and left myself in quite a bad financial situation and I really did not know which way to turn.

"I came to a point where I thought I can't go on with this anymore, I don't know how to cope and I prepared everything in my life that time was perhaps now over, it was time for me to leave."

Penny received help from CAP Debt Centre at the Holy Trinity Church in Nailsea. The charity provides sessions that offer practical and emotional support, free budgeting courses, and job clubs to try and get people back into employment.

Nationally CAP has seen a 40 per cent rise in the number of calls to its helpline compared to last year.

The charity has also seen a huge increase in depression for those in debt. The proportion who said they experienced depression has risen from a quarter (24%) last year, to two fifths (41%) this year.

The percentage of Christians Against Poverty clients who said they have attempted or considered suicide, as a way out of their debt, has risen from 28% to 36%.

CAP's Gordano Valley's Debt Centre Manager, Ann Tarr, said: "The reality for families on the lowest incomes here in Bristol and across the South West is many of them just don't have enough money coming in to be able to run their homes, buy the essentials, and feed themselves and their children.

"It's incredibly sad but not surprising that this is leading to more people feeling anxious, depressed and suicidal.

"At Christians Against Poverty, through our free services, we can help people get out of debt, provide them with practical and emotional support, offer free budgeting courses, and job clubs to try and get them back into employment.

"This help often leads to people becoming debt free so they can move forward with their lives and have hope for the future."