Calls to helpline are up by one fifth

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A CHARITY is reminding people in distress and despair its volunteers are always ready to listen as calls to its branch in the north of the county increased by a fifth this year.

The suicide rate in Northamptonshire is above the average for England and the East Midlands and calls to Samaritans’ Kettering branch between January and September rose 19 per cent from 11,420 last year to 13,608 this year.

Sandra Forrester, branch director of Northampton Samaritans, said: “Each suicide is one too many and we need to remind people about the value of sharing our problems.

“Samaritans is here 24 hours a day, even in the middle of the night, for anyone needing someone to turn to about their worries.”

In 2009, the latest year for which figures are available, 41 people committed suicide in Northamptonshire.

The suicide rate, measured per 100,000 residents, averaged 6.21 in the county between 2007 and 2009, compared to 5.76 in England and 5.57 in the East Midlands.

The rate for 2009 was 5.79 in Northamptonshire, slightly below the national rate of 5.95 but still above the East Midlands rate of 5.33.

Referring suicidal patients from accident and emergency to Samaritans, training healthcare workers in suicide prevention, promoting safer prescribing of anti-depressants and painkillers and improving safety at suicide hotspots, like railway bridges, were recommended in a suicide prevention strategy developed by NHS Northamptonshire in 2009-10.

The strategy, which was developed with police, local authorities and voluntary organisations, greatly involves Samaritans.

Three times as many men as women commit suicide, with 31 of the 41 county suicides in 2009 by men, and Samaritans has launched a five-year campaign to encourage men, especially working class men aged 30 to 50, to talk about their feelings.

The charity believes that talking to anyone, whether it is family, friends, colleagues, health professionals or Samaritans, is better than suffering in silence.

People can call Samaritans 24 hours a day or drop in to the Kettering branch in Montagu Street when its front door is open.

To speak to a Samaritan call 01536 416999 or email jo@samaritans.org.