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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 February 2008, 10:22 GMT
Suicide plan 'overdue' - charity
Young woman holding her head in her hands
The new strategy aims to help young people with suicidal thoughts
A suicide prevention strategy for the whole of Wales is long overdue, says the health charity Mind Cymru.

Health Minister Edwina Hart has announced the strategy is being accelerated after the death of another teenager in the Bridgend area.

Jenna Parry, 16, was found dead in woods at Cefn Cribwr, the 17th suspected suicide in just over a year.

Mind Cymru welcomed the national strategy development and said Wales has been "lagging behind".

Ruth Coombs, the charity's manager for influence and change, said: "What we know for Wales is we do have the highest rates of suicide among young men in the UK at the moment.

"We also know that overall the rates have not changed significantly over the last six or so years unlike other countries who have got suicide strategies in place where the suicide rates have fallen.

'Frustrating'

"For example in Scotland, before their strategy came into place there, rates of suicide were higher than they were in Wales, they're now lower than they are in Wales."

Ms Coombs said the lack of previous action on a national strategy was "frustrating", but the charity now welcomed the minister's statement and hoped to be included in the work on the strategy.

FOR HELP
Samaritans 08457 909090
Childline 0800 1111
Papyrus, specialists in preventing young suicide 01978 367333

She said the Scottish campaign Choose Life has been in place for at least four years "so we do feel Wales is lagging behind Scotland, Ireland, England and other countries across the world".

Edwina Hart announced on Wednesday that Wales' national suicide strategy was being accelerated and would follow the Choose Life example. Full recommendations will be published in three months.

The assembly government wants a 10% drop in suicides by 2012.

School-based counselling services, recommended in the Clywch report into abuse by teacher John Owen at a Pontypridd school, are among the recommendations. These will receive 6.5m over three years.

Additional funding is also being made available so that three quarters of local education authorities can be involved in the Welsh Network of Health School Schemes by March 2008 and all by March 2010.

Work is currently underway to develop guidance for schools, local authorities and other partners in emotional health and well-being of pupils.

A separate suicide prevention strategy has also been launched to tackle the deaths in Bridgend county.

The minister also agreed there would be some early pilot projects.

"I have also agreed that there will be some early pilot projects in suicide prevention work in those areas with the highest suicide rates and am aware that the rates vary across Wales and are not associated with one area," said Ms Hart.

Cluster

"This is a national problem and not solely in one local authority area, so the projects will be in different parts of Wales."

Ms Coombs said the top priority with the strategy was to "take stock" of the services which exist, as well as people affected by suicidal behaviour, attempted suicide or suicide itself.

She said there was also a need to "gather information about what works, because at the moment there are lots of unknowns in Wales".

Bridgend MP Madeleine Moon welcomed the speeding up of the strategy, saying it could develop from the local strategy which was already in place.

"Definitely, we have a problem, we've got a cluster of suicides in Bridgend that we need to sort out. Bridgend is one area of Wales, there are many areas of Wales that have a problem," the MP said.



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