Welsh suicide rates for men ‘highest among the four UK nations’ – Hart to speed up prevention strategy

A new report by the National Public Health Service for Wales has revealed that the suicide rate among adult Welsh males is the highest of all four UK nations.

Health Minister Edwina Hart AM has announced an ‘acceleration’ of a Wales-wide suicide prevention strategy.

The new figures on adult male suicide in Wales come from a briefing document prepared last month for Bridgend Local Health Board, in which the authors state:

“Suicide rates among men in Wales are currently the highest among the UK nations. It is notable that the rate among men in previous analyses (2002-04) had demonstrated higher rates in Scotland than in Wales. The rates in Scotland have fallen but those in Wales have remained roughly unchanged.”

Glamorgan Valleys Coroner Philip Walters last summer spoke of his “desperate concern about the number of young men committing suicide in the Valleys.”

Over an 11-month period in 2006, he said he dealt with nearly one case a week, the vast majority men under 30.

In a letter to all AMs, Edwina Hart said: “The recent sad deaths from suicide in young people in South Wales has highlighted the need for us to pull together the significant amounts of suicide prevention policy and initiatives into a single action plan.

“I sincerely hope we can all unite behind the work on the action plan which can get underway quickly, build on existing policies and provide support to the public and local providers in both the statutory and voluntary sectors.”

Mrs Hart cited nine elements she planned to bring together in her action plan:

• A health gain target to reduce suicide at all ages by at least 10% by 2012
• A suicide prevention document produced by the National Public Health Service for Wales
• A mental health promotion action plan
• Suicide prevention to be made a priority under the Mental Health National Service Frameworks 2005
• A national strategy for schools-based counselling services
• Development of a Welsh network of ‘healthy school’ schemes
• New guidance for schools and local authorities on the emotional health and well-being of pupils
• New advertising campaigns to promote the Community Advice and Listening Line (CALL)

* CALL is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and hosted by North East Wales NHS Trust to provide a listening ear, information on services as well as free self help literature to anyone in Wales who feels they would benefit from talking through their feelings and emotions in confidence.
The CALL helpline is free of charge, just dial 0800 132 737. You can also use your mobile to text the word ‘help’ and your question to 81066. Opening hours are Monday to Friday, 10am-2pm, weekends 12 noon – midnight.

To go to the CALL website, click here.