Welsh Government’s suicide reduction plan welcomed

A Welsh Assembly Government strategy designed to reduce suicide and self-harm has been broadly welcomed by the mental health sector.

Talk to me: A National Action Plan to Reduce Suicide and Self Harm in Wales contains a number of key aims geared to raising mental health awareness in this country.

Statistics show that almost three-quarters of people in Wales that commit suicide are unknown to mental health services in the year prior to their death so the plan, which was announced last week, contains a number of key aims which it is hoped will improve this situation.

The Assembly’s plan will receive funding worth over £420,000 a year for a 24-hour helpline with £100,000 a year for a Samaritans’ co-ordinator to be provided by the Welsh Assembly Government.

The action plan will also include recently launched Assembly Government programmes such as the £6.5million schools counselling strategy which will ensure that all pupils across Wales have someone to turn to if they need help or support.

Health and Social Services Minister Edwina Hart said: “Every suicide is a tragedy with a life and family member lost. For those left behind suicide leaves a wound that in many cases never heals.

“We need to change the culture around mental health issues so that the signs can be identified, and support provided, at an earlier stage in order to reduce the rate of suicide and the numbers of those who self-harm.

“There are already a significant number of initiatives in Wales which are delivering support, but this action plan pulls them together and extends their reach to provide a co-ordinated approach across Wales.”

Bill Walden-Jones, Chief Executive of Hafal, Wales’ leading charity for people with severe mental illness and their carers, welcomed the action plan and added: “As well as the wider population the Assembly Government owes a special duty to people already diagnosed with severe mental illness.

“For those with bipolar disorder the risk of suicide is 15 times higher than that of the general population. For people with schizophrenia it’s 8.5 times higher so we need to help these people with good quality mental health services.

“This remains an important area and those who are vulnerable need to be identified with support provided as soon as possible.

 “At the moment mental health services in Wales are patchy which means some people may feel neglected while others can find themselves moving between services and not getting a consistent level of treatment.

“Many people have poor experiences in hospital and then suffer a great sense of loneliness and neglect when they leave. This ‘revolving door’ syndrome is the cause of much distress and specifically of many suicides.”

On average, 300 people die by suicide each year in Wales – a lower rate than Scotland or Northern Ireland but higher than England – with the rate remaining static over the last decade.

To read Talk to me: A National Action Plan to Reduce Suicide and Self Harm in Wales please visit the following link: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/documents/talktomee[1].pdf

To find out more about Hafal please visit: http://www.hafal.org/