Suicide rate for men in Wales 'highest since 1981'

Samaritans counsellor Image copyright Samaritans
Image caption Samaritans said the male suicide rate in Wales has been significantly higher than the rate in England since 2010

The suicide rate for men in Wales is at its highest since 1981, with a 23% rise between 2012 and 2013, the Samaritans has said.

The charity will set out its manifesto for reducing suicides to the Welsh assembly on Friday, ahead of next year's elections.

It wants the assembly to challenge mental health stigma and calls for a minimum unit pricing policy on alcohol.

Health Minister Mark Drakeford said he welcomed the Samaritans' contribution.

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Media captionCauses of suicide are complex, says Samaritans Wales boss Sarah Stone

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show there were 393 suicides in those aged 15 and over in Wales in 2013, a rise of 59 deaths since 2012.

Between 2012 and 2013, the number of male suicides rose from 257 to 317, while the number of female suicides dropped very slightly from 77 to 76.

The figures also show suicide rates for men in Wales have been significantly higher than the rate in England since 2010.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for 20 to 34-year-olds.

Sarah Stone, Samaritans executive director for Wales, said while the causes of suicide were complex, men, people who live in deprived areas and those who abuse alcohol were more at risk.

As well as a minimum unit pricing policy on alcohol, Samaritans' manifesto, Four Steps to Save Lives, also calls on the assembly to explore ways of ensuring young people between the ages of 16 and 18 are supported in education.

Ms Stone said: "Reducing suicides requires a wide range of agencies to work together nationally and in local communities to give people the best chance to turn their lives around when they are struggling."

"We need an approach which promotes mental health and wellbeing, timely support, public awareness and which reduces inequality."

A spokesman for Mr Drakeford said the Welsh government had set out aims to prevent and reduce suicide and self harm in Wales in its new plan, Talk to Me 2.

"Tackling alcohol misuse is a key priority for the Welsh government. We intend to publish a draft bill for consultation on a minimum unit price of alcohol before the summer recess," he added.

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