11th January 2017

Sadly, the UK’s increasing suicide rates have hit the headlines over the last two weeks, highlighting the tragic fact that suicide is the leading cause of death among young people between 10-34yrs.

Unfortunately, it is a trend which is affecting all areas of the country, and is especially noticeable in Torridge, as the Journal pointed out earlier this month, where between 2013 and 2015 there were six deaths of people aged under 35, the highest in Devon.

Suicide leaves parents, partners and friends devastated and broken, and with many suicides being preventable, it is vital that more is done to tackle this at both a local and national level.

I met with the Devon Suicide Alliance last year, after several high profile suicides at Torridge Bridge over recent years, and having raised the matter with Devon County Council and Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, I am pleased to note that measures are now being introduced to make the bridge safer.

Regrettably though, it is not enough to simply introduce safety measures at local danger sites. More must be done at an earlier stage to encourage those who are at risk to seek help. As part of this, support will be provided to all secondary schools, ensuring that they are offered mental health first aid training to increase awareness around mental health, along with help to tackle the unacceptable stigma around the issue.

Child and adolescent mental health services will also be reviewed to identify the areas that are working and those which can be improved, enabling increasing numbers of children and young people to access the mental healthcare they need and deserve. 

Suicide is the leading cause of death in England and Wales for men under the age of 50, and statistics show that men are three times more likely than women to die by this means. The cross-Government suicide prevention strategy recognises this, in addition to outlining that suicide prevention strategies should include promotion of mental wellbeing and the identification of underlying issues such as bullying, poor self-image and lack of self-esteem at an early stage.  The strategy is already being implemented and will continue to be strengthened over the coming months and years.

Support is also being given to local authorities to implement clear suicide prevention plans, and an additional £1 billion will be spent on mental health by 2020-21 to improve access to services so that people receive the right care in the right place when they need it most.

While I am pleased that funding and resources are being put into reducing the number of deaths from suicide, it is my belief that there is still a huge amount to be done and I will, therefore, continue to press for the Government to act on its commitment.


Surgery Dates

Geoffrey holds regular surgeries. To book an appointment please click here or call 01822 612925.
Saturday 14th April
Bideford, Torrington
Saturday 21st April
Holsworthy, Tavistock