COUNCILLORS have welcomed a plan aiming to reduce the number of suicides in Portsmouth as figures show the city’s rates are higher than the national average.
A report looking at suicide in Portsmouth revealed there are 14.1 suicides for every 100,000 people – higher than the national average of 10.2 and the regional average of 10.1.
The council, together with our health partners, are trying to minimise the risks and see what we can do to reduce the numbers.Councillor Luke Stubbs
Between 2013 and 2016, there were around 24 deaths a year due to suicide or undetermined intent.
Portsmouth City Council’s health and wellbeing board has approved the Suicide Prevention Plan which aims to reduce suicides in the city by at least 10 per cent over the next three years, and provide support for those bereaved or affected by suicide.
Councillor Luke Stubbs, executive member for adult social care and public health, said: ‘Portsmouth having an above average number of suicides is a great concern for everyone.
‘The council, together with our health partners, are trying to minimise the risks and see what we can do to reduce the numbers.’
The council board heard 28 per cent of people who committed suicide were in contact with specialist mental health services and 64 per cent had seen their GP about mental health problems four weeks before their death.
Cllr Stubbs added: ‘There are people coming into the system for their mental health problems before they commit suicide. We need to question if there’s anything more that can be done to ensure they get the help they need.
‘Overall, the plan is an excellent starting point and I hope it will make a difference to people going through a difficult time.’
Other councillors have welcomed the plan too, at a time when they feel mental health services are facing cuts while demands increase.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the Liberal Democrat Party in Portsmouth, said: ‘This is a sensible plan because I was concerned about the figures. It is something that is needed and it is about time a response was put together.’