Page last updated at 07:15 GMT, Friday, 11 July 2008 08:15 UK

Rock concert to tackle suicides

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Funeral for a Friend performed in aid of the Samaritans event in Bridgend.

A rock concert has been held to help tackle the issues surrounding the apparent suicides of young people in Bridgend county.

Funeral for a Friend staged the gig in their home town after being contacted by staff at a music shop.

The event was also to raise money for Samaritans, which recently appointed a youth ambassador for Bridgend.

Since the beginning of 2007, 22 young people from the county have apparently taken their own lives.

The gig was held at Bridgend Recreation Centre on Thursday and all 500 tickets sold out.

Guitarist Darran Smith said: "By maybe us showing we want to associated with the Samaritans, hopefully, if that's the way it's interpreted, we're showing that the Samaritans are cool and they are there to be spoken to if you need help with any problems you are having with your life."

Secretary of the Bridgend Samaritans, Darren Matthews, said he welcomed the move to host the concert in the town, and there were volunteers from the charity on hand at the venue.

A concert like this is especially important because it is the age range we really want to reach out to
Darren Matthews, Bridgend Samaritans

"We have got to break down the stigma around talking about suicide and mental health issues, " he said.

"That issue is now out in the open in Bridgend, and we want it to stay that way - it can't be brushed under the carpet."

Mr Matthews said the charity was continuing to work hard across the Bridgend area, including getting the message into schools.

"In the past, when we held talks in schools, a handful of pupils said they had heard of us, but virtually none knew what we did," he said.

"That has completely changed, and when we speak to them now and ask if they know what we do, virtually all the hands go up.

"A concert like this is especially important because it is the age range we really want to reach out to."

Supporting people

Mr Matthews said that too often younger people saw the Samaritans as a group run for adults.

"And that's not the case, we are there for everyone regardless of their age or what they want to talk about," he added.

The series of deaths of young people in the area has also prompted Bridgend Council to earmark almost £1m for a project aimed at supporting people at risk from suicide in Bridgend and the neighbouring Neath Port Talbot area.

The scheme, Let's Talk - or Siaradwn Ni in Welsh - will establish a network of specially-trained people who will promote suicide prevention techniques in the community and across voluntary and statutory sector services.




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