The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, has given his support to a strategy launched today by a number of organisations in Suffolk to prevent suicides across the county.
The strategy, Suffolk Lives Matter, details how services across the county are working to reduce the number of suicides.
In Suffolk, 8.7 people per 100,000 died by suicide each year, compared with 8.9 per 100,000 in England as a whole.
Suicide is the third most frequent cause of death in males aged 15-49 in the county and male suicide rates are nearly three times hgher than female rates in Suffolk.
While no single organisation is responsible for preventing suicide, a range of professionals from the voluntary and charity sector, clinical commissioning groups, local councils, police, HealthWatch Suffolk, the coroner’s office and mental health services all play a crucial role.
Suffolk County Council has taken the lead on the new, joint plan.
In a statement read out by Cllr Colin Noble, Leader of Suffolk County Council, the Duke of Cambridge said: “You are all here today at Suffolk Lives Matter to help reduce the number of tragic deaths by suicide in this county and to tackle the stigma so sadly associated with this issue.
“You may know that I, along with my wife, Catherine and brother, Harry have recently launched a campaign – Heads Together – to help change the conversation around mental health.
“Through our work we have seen time and again people who are afraid to admit that they are struggling, and to seek the right help when they need it. As all of you here today will have seen, this can destroy families and end lives.
“Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45, yet suicide is such a taboo – no one talks about it, least of all men. In my first week on the job as an air ambulance pilot, we were called out to an attempted suicide. Despite our efforts, that young man died, and I have witnessed countless others since. The most worrying fact of all is that most of the men who take their lives never access support services – because they were ashamed or because they did not know where the find the support they needed.
“Suicide is a serious problem that needs serious action and I am delighted to learn today that Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board with its partners, is launching a specific strategy dedicated to reducing the number of suicide in the county. Many of you work on the frontline and know what a difference coordinated, positive action on this issue will make.
“Thank you for your commitment – I wish you every success with this work.”
Leader of Suffolk County Council, Colin Noble, said: “According to Samaritans data, suicide affects 10 in every 100,000 people in the UK, it is one of the main causes of death among men aged 15-49 in Suffolk and three quarters of all deaths by suicide are by men.
“The impact of suicide is profound. From the tragic human cost associated with the 60 deaths by suicide in Suffolk every year – and countless others affected, from families and friends, to work colleagues to name but a few – to the economic cost associated with the years lost over the course of a lifetime, you can see that the effects are profound.
“Today, we have set ourselves the challenge to reduce suicide in Suffolk and do all we can to support those who need help.
“It’s a courageous ambition and one that is worthy of all that is good about our collective approach to tackle the most complex and pressing issues that affect our society. Unless we use our shared and individual influence and ability to affect change, we will never create the healthy, prosperous county to which we all aspire.
“Suicide is a complex issue, and often the final act of one or more life events, or a result of deeper rooted mental health issues. We have the experts in this room, and across the county, to make a real difference here when it comes to understanding the issue and to support people to avoid taking the decision to take their lives.
“This knowledge and expertise is reflected in the new suicide prevention strategy, which is available here today as a draft document, setting out our vision for reducing suicide in Suffolk. I urge you to take the time to read this publication, consider the part you can play in its delivery and use it as a basis for discussion today and in the weeks to come.
“We will not necessarily make a breakthrough overnight, or ever in the medium term, but if we are serious about the recommendations set out in this strategy, I’m confident we can reduce the number of people who tragically take their own lives every year.
“There are not many people who can say that they have saved lives as a result of their work, but I truly believe that today marks a point where we can claim to have played our part in doing just that.”
Cllr Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Chairman of the Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “I am extremely pleased, on behalf of the Board, that this event takes the theme of suicide prevention. It says a lot about our ambition and courage as a group of committed professionals that we are working together to address this serious issue.
“It demonstrates not only how far the Health and Wellbeing Board has come over the past three years, but also speaks volumes about the dedication of our health and wellbeing partners and their willingness to collaborate on some of the most important and complex issues that affect us in Suffolk.”