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Fear expressed at rise in suicide post-pandemic

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Suicide prevention needs to be put at the heart of Covid recovery strategies, say the Samaritans.

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) chief medical officer recently warned board members there could be an increase in deaths by suicide as the economic impact of Covid is felt.

Dr Dan Dalton told the board: “We remain anxious both locally and nationally, that there may be an increase in suicide associated with the various economic impacts of Covid.

The Samaritans. (51704166)
The Samaritans. (51704166)

“We haven’t seen that yet but we are continuing to keep a watching eye on it.”

A leading mental health charity has said suicide prevention needs to be put at the heart of Covid recovery plans.

Joe Potter, policy manager at Samaritans, said there was a lot still to be understood about the economic impact of the pandemic before any conclusions could be drawn, but said it was “clearly significant and will be felt for a long time”.

“We do know that young adults are likely to have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic in terms of mental health and economic disruption such as job loss,” he said.

“We also know that previous economic downturns have been linked to suicide risk, especially for men on low incomes. Samaritans wants suicide prevention to be at the heart of the government’s recovery strategy.

“We also want Government to prioritise support for people from the aforementioned groups who may have suffered job loss as part of its economic recovery from the pandemic.”

Mr Potter said suicide is not inevitable, it is complex, rarely the result of a single factor and should not be oversimplified.

Next month, NSFT is holding a suicide prevention event for farmers in particular.

In recent years, farming has seen increasing pressure on those working within the industry from financial worries, increasing competition, Brexit, the weather and now Covid, an NSFT spokeswoman said.

The trust’s suicide prevention lead Liz Howlett and Emma Haley, charity manager for You Are Not Alone, will host an online suicide prevention event on Farmers Day, October 12, from 12pm to 1pm.

Visit nsft.nhs.uk/trust-events for the link to join the online event.

Anyone can contact Samaritans, free, 24/7, from any phone on 116 123, or you can email jo@samaritans.org or visit samaritans.org

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