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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 December 2006, 12:22 GMT
Beachy Head suicide numbers down
Cliffs at Beachy Head
The number of suicides fell from 26 in 2005 to only seven this year
The number of suicides at Beachy Head cliffs in East Sussex has fallen dramatically in 2006 after steady increases over the previous four years.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the total of seven incidents was the lowest it had dealt with.

Local coastguard officers said the work of a dedicated chaplaincy team, set up in August 2004, had had a "positive effect" on the Beachy Head situation.

Members patrol the notorious suicide spot seven evenings a week.

The Beachy Head area of coastline runs from the Eastbourne seafront at Duke's Drive to Belle Tout lighthouse.

Our sympathy and prayers are with those who have suffered a loss
Stuart McNab, coastguard officer at Beachy Head

Sussex Police and the coastguard are now working with the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team (BHCT) on trying to prevent suicides.

As well as evening patrols, the team has daytime call-out and aftercare services.

Its members come from local churches and are trained in dealing with suicidal or depressed people who are spotted at Beachy Head.

The MCA said BHCT provided a "visible presence... with the offering of counselling and support to those in need".

Stuart McNab, coastguard station officer at Beachy Head, said: "While we are delighted the numbers have gone down, we fully recognise that each of the seven incidents in 2006 still represents a tragedy to families, and our sympathy and prayers are with those who have suffered a loss this year."

BHCT, which is funded through voluntary contributions, said it was beginning daytime patrols this Christmas with a view to making them more regular in the New Year.

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