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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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New bid to cut Cumbrian suicides

People are being urged to recognise suicidal symptoms after new figures showed Cumbria’s annual death toll from people killing themselves is higher than the national average.

A total of 50 lives are lost in Cumbria each year to suicide but an updated county strategy is now hoping to reduce that number.

A report from Cumbria County Council suggests most people give warning signs of their intentions and it recommends the best way to prevent suicide is to recognise the signs.

It suggests people should ask others how they are feeling, if they have had any bad news, thoughts about ending their life and should listen and offer support. Anyone who is concerned about someone’s immediate health should call 999 and not leave them alone.

Other options are to ring the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90; Child Line on 0800 1111; or Cumbria’s out of hours health service CHOC on 03000 247 247. The council says people should point out the alternatives, show that they care and get a doctor or other health professional involved.

It says the signals are more dangerous if the person has a mood disorder like depression or bipolar disorder, is alcohol dependent, has previously attempted suicide, or has a family history of suicide.

Patricia Bell, the council’s cabinet member for public health and communities, said: “There is little that matches the devastation caused by a suicide. It’s vital that everyone realises that they can make a difference to someone with suicidal thoughts.

“This prevention strategy will see all agencies in Cumbria pooling resources to work together to make a change and ensure everyone knows that it’s everyone’s business. If you suspect someone may be feeling suicidal, encourage them to talk – it could save their life.”

People bereaved through suicide also need support and are themselves at increased risk of suicidal thoughts, said the authority. Social attitudes and stigma often leave people who have lost a loved one feeling isolated.

A Cumbrian branch of the national charity Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) has been established. A suicide alertness training programme is also being made available to organisations. For further details call 01228 543354.

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