Hampshire & Isle of Wight

New role aims to reduce Hampshire suicide rates

Man thinking Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The suicide rate in the UK has risen for the first time since 2013

Efforts to improve care for people in Hampshire who self-harm are to be stepped up, after a rise in the suicide rate.

A new specialist suicide prevention manager for the county will work alongside health chiefs and local authorities.

It aims to lower the numbers of suicides by 10% by 2020-21, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Southampton City Council described it as "positive action" on mental health.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed 101 people in Hampshire took their own lives last year, compared to 88 people in 2016 and 98 in 2017.

Nationally, the figure has risen for the first time since 2013.

In Southampton the number of suicides rose from 24 in 2017 to 27 in 2018, while in Winchester 16 suicides were recorded in 2018 compared to eight in 2017.

The new specialist, funded by Southampton and Hampshire councils. will work with councils, NHS trusts, clinical commissioning groups, police, prisons and the voluntary sector, as well as provide training and support in workplaces.

The council described the post as a project management role and said the manager would not carry out face-to-face suicide interventions themselves.

David Shields, city council cabinet member, said: "I am hopeful that this new role will help us to reach the most vulnerable groups - especially middle-aged men - to help reduce incidents of suicide in Hampshire and Southampton."

Kevin Gardner, chief executive of Solent Mind, a Hampshire mental health charity which was awarded funding in February to deal with stigmas around mental health, said he welcomed "any investment that furthers these objectives".

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