*Source – Kent and Medway Public Health Observatory
As part of World Suicide Prevention Day on Saturday 10 September, Kent County Council is reminding people of a special 24-hour free helpline.
The helpline – which aims to reduce the number of suicides by encouraging men feeling under pressure to seek help – has seen a 37 per cent increase in male callers since it was launched almost six months ago as part of the KCC campaign “Release the Pressure”.
Figures show suicide is the leading killer of men under 45; in 2015, there were 151 registered suicides in Kent of which 116 (77%) were men*.
World Suicide Prevention Day is organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organization. This year’s theme is “Connect. Communicate. Care”
In support, events are being held in Kent to raise awareness while health experts are reminding residents of the KCC funded helpline which is free and confidential, and provided by an independent charity Mental Health Matters (MHM).
KCC Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “Given that the majority of these men are not in contact with mental health services before they take their own lives, they are a very difficult group to reach through traditional interventions. We are pleased that people have been using the helpline and we will continue to encourage anyone who is feeling the pressure at the moment to talk to someone. We also urge friends and family of people who may be going through a rough patch, to point them in the direction of crucial support which could prevent them harming themselves.”
Alan Heyes from MHM said: “We’ve seen an increase in calls with people making comments that talking made them feel ‘light’ and ‘less panicked’ with one person saying that getting the helpline number was the ‘best thing that had happened’ to them. Our 24/7 helpline is staffed by experienced counsellors who are there to provide you with a confidential, non-judgemental listening support service. You don’t have to go through this alone.”
The “Release the Pressure” campaign urges people to seek help by calling 0800 107 0160 where support is available from trained and experienced staff on this freephone number, 24 hours a day 365 days a year. There is also a website for more details and case studies of men from Kent who have turned their lives around after attempting suicide www.releasethepressure.uk
KCC will also be speaking at a Suicide Prevention Conference being held by the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) at the Orchards in East Malling. It will also include the launch of the Trust’s 2016-19 Suicide Prevention Strategy, alongside a range of workshops, seminars and discussion groups looking at risk assessment and management and the prevention of suicide.