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Action needed to tackle link between poverty and suicide in Wales says Samaritans Cymru

Samaritans Cymru has launched a new report today which highlights the devastating link between poverty and suicide.

The charity says there is a strong association between suicide rates in deprived areas – as deprivation increases, so does suicidal behaviour.

Suicide rates are two to three times higher in the most deprived neighbourhoods compared to the most affluent the new reports says.

Each year, between 300 and 350 people die by suicide in Wales, which is around three times the number killed in road accidents says Samaritans Cymru and is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 and the leading cause of death of people under 35.

Alongside thisalmost a quarter of the Welsh population (23%) live in poverty and costs Wales £3.6bn a year; a fifth of the Welsh Government budget.

The report sets out a number of recommendations to tackle the link between poverty and suicide, including a call to Welsh Government to set out a Wales Poverty Strategy.

The Welsh Government does not currently have an overarching broad poverty strategy or action plan to address poverty in Wales, but the suicide prevention charity believes a specific and targeted approach to tackle it is crucial.

Samaritans Cymru is also calling for better public information to support financial literacy and help to reduce unmanageable debt, better support for those bereaved by suicide and a call for specific investment in community groups to tackle loneliness and isolation.

Amongst other key findings, the research found that –

  • There is a strong association between area-level deprivation and suicidal behaviour: as area-level deprivation increases, so does suicidal behaviour.
  • Admissions to hospital following self-harm are two times higher in the most deprived neighbourhoods compared to the most affluent.
  • Multiple and large employer closures resulting in unemployment can increase stress in a local community, break down social connections and increase feelings of hopelessness and depression, all of which are recognised risk factors for suicidal behaviour.
  • Suicide risk increases during periods of economic recession, particularly when recessions are associated with a steep rise in unemployment, and this risk remains high when crises end, especially for individuals whose economic circumstances do not improve.

Sarah Stone, Executive Director for Wales said:

“There is now overwhelming evidence of a strong connection between socioeconomic deprivation and suicidal behaviour in Wales. We are pleased to launch our report today, which sets out the actions we believe are needed to address this link. Suicide is not inevitable; there are actions we can take so that difficult times do not result in people dying.”

“We also want to highlight that the power of communities in Wales. The skills and abilities of the people within them are a major asset which needs to be recognised, supported and utilised. Communities in Wales already have the solutions; we just need to forge the links. We also need to realise, as a society, that deprivation is closer to us than we think; we must stop seeing these communities as separate to us.”

Full Report (PDF) Socioeconomic disadvantage and suicidal behaviour

Whatever you’re going through, you can call Samaritans free any time, from any phone on 116 123.