Page last updated at 05:53 GMT, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 06:53 UK

Charity's suicide strategy lobby

Samaritans logo
Samaritans run a programme to help teenagers cope with their emotions

The Samaritans are hoping to use their expertise to influence the development of the Welsh Assembly Government's national suicide prevention strategy.

Representatives of the charity are spending the day talking to AMs at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay about their work.

The event has been sponsored by Bridgend AM Carwyn Jones.

The suicide strategy was proposed after 17 young people from his constituency apparently took their own lives in just over a year.

It is currently being devised by the assembly government.

Paul Stockton, the Samaritans' regional representative for Wales, said: "Positive steps have been made so far and the assembly has moved quickly.

"It is now important that they allocate sufficient resources to this issue on an ongoing basis to address this key concern."

There should be consultation with local groups about what should happen in their communities
Darren Matthews, Bridgend Samaritans

The charity will run lunchtime sessions at the Senedd, such as suicide and the media and Samaritans schools' programme Developing Emotional Awareness and Learning (DEAL).

It will also show its suicide and self-harm response kit which the charity is developing to help schools cope with the immediate aftermath of a suicide death, and with subsequent anniversaries.

Bridgend came under the spotlight after it emerged 17 young people killed themselves in the county between January 2007 and February this year.

However, police have ruled out any suggestion of suicide pacts between any of the young people, and Bridgend coroner Philip Walters has repeatedly said there was nothing to link the deaths.

Darren Matthews, director of the Bridgend Samaritans branch, said the strategy must be given the importance necessary for it to succeed.

"It needs to be driven from the very top of the Welsh assembly by First Minister Rhodri Morgan," he told the BBC Wales news website.

"It's very important that it's community focused.

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

"It's a strategy for Wales but it needs to be implemented and delivered on a local level so there should be consultation with local groups about what should happen in their communities.

"We need to have increased investment similar to that for [Scottish suicide prevention strategy] Choose Life."

He said it was important not to target just one group of people, saying that while deaths among young people were in the news at the moment and were a particular issue in Bridgend at present, suicide was just as big a problem among older people.

Mr Matthews hopes the resources the Samaritans have already developed, such as the DEAL programme, will be more widely used as a result of the strategy.

"It equips 14-16-year-olds emotionally to deal with the knocks that life can throw up," he said.

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