Liberal Democrats respond to Kent & Medway's suicide rates.
Kent and Medway Liberal Democrats are responding to the NHS report which shows that Kent and Medway are one of eight communities singled out by the Government as "worst affected by suicide". The report found "that while suicide rates have fallen since 2014-2016, they remain above the national average".
We welcome the consultation on the 'Suicide and Self-harm Prevention Strategy 2021-25'. The consultation is being run by Transforming Health and Social Care in Kent and Medway, which is a partnership of NHS organisations in the area along with Kent County Council and Medway Council. The consultation on the Children and Young People Suicide and Self-harm Prevention Strategy 2021-25 is being run concurrently.
Alan Wells, spokesperson for Medway Liberal Democrats said, "It is extremely worrying that the suicide rate in Kent and Medway is above the national average. Every single one of these deaths is a tragedy that devastates families, friends and communities. The consultation and its findings will allow feedback on strategies which can help to reduce suicide and self-harm in Kent and Medway, among adults and young people.
"I know that suicide is not inevitable, and preventable and encouraging steps have been made to prevent suicide, but we need to look at suicide as a serious public health issue in our region. It's important that we do everything we can to help anyone in Kent and Medway struggling with suicidal thoughts and feels there is no other alternative."
The fact that 67 per cent of people who committed suicide were not known to secondary mental health services, shows that we still don't have a comprehensive, cross-departmental government work-plan that prioritises clear actions on how to reach people who die by suicide, who are not in touch with mental health services.
Rob Bird, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at Kent County Council, added "Kent County Council is currently consulting on a new 'Kent and Medway Suicide and Self-harm Prevention Strategies 2021-2025'. Draft strategy papers have been published for both Adults and Children & Young Persons.
"Neither strategy paper recognises the impact of the lockdown and the pandemic on people's mental health. Nor do they address the inadequate provision of mental health support, particularly for children and young persons.
"We have recently learnt that 7% of children have attempted suicide by the age of 17 and almost one in four say they have self-harmed in the past year. (Click here for the Guardian report.) The numbers of children and young persons seeking mental health support have risen by 50% in the past 3 years. It is vital that we put in place the help they need now, before it is too late."
The Samaritans have stated that: "Self-harm must be prioritised by governments and plans should equip young people with effective, healthy coping mechanisms and promote help-seeking by reducing stigma around self-harm."
We know that the pandemic is impacting on lots of people's lives and exacerbating some known risk factors for suicide for some people who are already vulnerable. It is essential that these groups are given the support they need before people reach crisis point.
Suicide prevention must be a priority right now, so we can save lives.
Anyone can contact Samaritans FREE any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won't show up on your phone bill. Or you can visit the Samaritans website.
For young persons in the UK information and support is available on the YoungMinds website. For urgent support, contact the YoungMinds Crisis Messenger by texting YM to 85258. YoungMinds' free helpline for parents is on 0808 802 5544 from 9.30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.