Figures reveal how many Lincolnshire residents have lost their lives to suicide – as campaigners call for the Government to bolster prevention services across the county following the coronavirus pandemic.
It comes as organisations get together to raise awareness for World Suicide Prevention Day, held annually on September 10.
Office for National Statistics data shows 250 people were registered as having died by suicide in Lincolnshire between 2018 and 2020 – the latest available data.
It means the suicide rate in the area was 12.6 per 100,000 people over the period.
That was up from 11.2 between 2017 and 2019, and higher than the rate across England and Wales of 10.5 deaths per 100,000 people.
Separate figures show the number of suicide deaths registered across the two nations fell by 8.2% from 5,691 in 2019 to 5,224 in 2020 – though the ONS warned the decrease may have been caused by several factors including a delay in registrations during the pandemic.
Samaritans is urging the Government to account for the “strong connection” between economic deprivation and suicide into its post-pandemic economic recovery plans.
Jacqui Morrissey, assistant director of research and influencing at Samaritans, said: “Any life lost to suicide is a tragedy and we know that the after-effects of the extraordinary last 18 months will continue to impact people’s lives in the years to come.
“Funding should be made available in the forthcoming spending review for targeted investment in local areas to further develop and deliver practical support services to prevent suicide among groups at the highest risk, particularly middle-aged men.”
Brian Dow, deputy CEO of charity Rethink Mental Illness and co-chairman of the National Suicide Prevention Alliance, said the pandemic had led to an increase in risk factors for suicide, including debt, housing instability and access to care.
He said: “Reform and investment in health, social care and our benefits system, which provide vital support to so many, is critical."
The Local Government Association said suicide prevention was a public health priority and every council had a suicide prevention plan in place.
David Fothergill, chairman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said: “Councils are already working closely with schools, railway operators, businesses, hospitals and the police to prevent suicide and help those affected by it.
“The forthcoming spending review provides an opportunity to help further strengthen local action to reduce and prevent suicide as we look to build back better from the pandemic and level up the country.”
The Government has pledged to invest £57 million by 2023-24 to support local suicide prevention plans and establish suicide bereavement services.
A Department for Health and Social Care spokesman said its mental health recovery action plan targets those most affected by the pandemic.
She added: "The last 18 months have been exceptionally difficult, and we are committed to doing everything possible to reduce suicides and support people’s mental wellbeing."
Contact Samaritans for free at any time on 116 123, or visit www.samaritans.org