We need to learn to listen for genuine cries for help

Steve's baby daughter made amazing progress this week, or so his wife thought

STEVE CANAVAN: It was a lot of rattle over just a little roll

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When anyone takes their own life, be it suicide or accidentally through a cry for help gone wrong, it is one death too many.

Which is why it is maddening to hear the story of Joanna Lynch.

Here was a woman who had been diagnosed with mental health problems and had made several previous suicide attempts.

And yet, when she reached out to the service that was supposed to help her, her family believes she was fobbed off. Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which was in charge of her care, has said: ‘It is vital that we, as an organisation, learn from this.’

But these words ring hollow for mental health campaigners, as similar things were said following Mark O’Shaughnessy and Craig Greer taking their own lives while in the care of the trust in 2013.

It is important that something more than lip service is paid to looking at what went wrong in relation to these tragic deaths.

We report this in the same week as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg revealed the government’s plans to tackle the UK’s rising number of suicides.

It wants to implement a model pioneered in Detroit, which has significantly reduced the amount of people taking their own lives.

While it is impossible to say for sure whether this new system would have saved the people named above, the statistics are impressive – the suicide rate in the patient group in Detroit dropped by 75 per cent.

Mental health still carries a stigma – one that we as a society need to recognise and remove. Just because an illness cannot be seen doesn’t make it any less real.

In the case of Joanna, her parents blame ‘poor professional standards’ and perhaps if attitudes were different, her concerns would not have been treated in the manner they appear to have been.

Communication is key and, as can be seen from the inquest into Joanna’s death there were failings on this front, better communication is a key element of the Detroit plan.

Eradicating suicide is a pipedream – for now – but we have to learn to understand cries for help.