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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 February 2008, 20:28 GMT
Suicide spate 'masks' wider worry
[Top, L-R) Dale Crole, Gareth Morgan, Liam Clarke, David Dilling; [Bottom, L-R) Thomas Davies, Zachary Barnes, Natasha Randall
Seven of the 14 to have died in the Bridgend area over the last year
The MP for Bridgend has said the recent spate of suicides in her constituency masked a high level of suicides across the whole of Wales.

In an MPs' debate Madeleine Moon called for a suicide prevention strategy for Wales, saying it had a "significantly higher rate than in England".

She said it was "striking and shocking" Wales had not set up a strategy.

Huw Irranca-Davies, junior Welsh Minister, said "concerted efforts" were being made over the problem.

Ms Moon secured the adjournment debate in the Commons following 14 suspected suicides among people under 26 in and around Bridgend over the past year.

She said she was concerned the rate of suicide is 35% higher in Wales than in England.

BRIDGEND AREA SUSPECTED SUICIDES
Dale Crole, 18, died Porthcawl, 5 Jan 2007
David Dilling, 19, died Pyle, 18 Feb 2007
Thomas Davies, 20, died Pyle, 25 Feb 2007
Anthony Martin, 19, died Cefn Glas, Bridgend 26 Apr 2007
Alan Price, 21, died Maesteg Apr 2007
James Knight, 26, died Cefn Cribbwr, Bridgend 17 May 2007
Leigh Jenkins, 22, died Maesteg, 3 June 2007
Zachary Barnes, 17, died Brackla, Bridgend, 11 Aug 2007
Jason Williams, 21, died North Cornelly, 23 Aug 2007
Andrew O'Neill, 20, died Nantymoel, 19 Sept 2007
Liam Clarke, 20, died Bridgend, 27 Dec 2007
Gareth Morgan, 27, died Bridgend, 5 Jan 2008
Natasha Randall, 17, died Blaengarw, 17 Jan 2008
Angie Fuller, 19, died Nantymoel, 4 Feb 2008 - police say not connected with other deaths.

Ms Moon argued that money was key to a successful strategy for combating suicide, with Scotland investing 20m in a strategy while Bridgend was waiting for lottery funding which may not be available until 2009.

She said: "I cannot be the only one who thinks it's unacceptable that young people will die while waiting for charity funds to be made available.

"Wales needs a National Suicide Strategy. The successful templates are there in Scotland and England, the local strategy is there for Bridgend."

Ms Moon also attacked the gloomy picture painted of Bridgend in the media following the disclosure of the spate of young suicides.

She said the town was a "good place to live and bring up a family".

'Play a part'

Mr Irranca-Davies said the deaths in Bridgend were of great concern to all MPs and efforts were being made across Wales, and within the assembly, to deal with the suicide problem.

He said: "It is important we try to learn lessons from these tragic incidences that have occurred to enable us to consider how we prevent future deaths.

"Suicide prevention should not be seen as the exclusive responsibility of any one sector of society.

"We must all play a part in reducing suicides including the local communities."

The minister also urged responsibility in reporting the issue.

He said: "The reason why the Bridgend area is under intense focus is clear, firstly we acknowledge that over the last ten years the rates of suicide for those aged 16-29 are higher than elsewhere in Wales.

"The recent deaths of young women - an untypical pattern, and speculation over links to internet or other means, have given Bridgend an understandable prominence."

A taskforce is also examining suicides in Bridgend county since 2004.

Philip Walters, the coroner for Bridgend and the Glamorgan Valleys, said he felt the issues driving young people to suicide should be addressed by politicians.

But he stressed that, in his view, the cluster of suicides was "purely coincidental".



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