Samaritans warn of ‘shocking’ rise in suicide rate

The chair of the Samaritans’ regional branch has spoken of a “shocking” rise in suicides in the Borders this year.

New figures have revealed a rise in Borders suicides rates from 2010 to 2011, and Arabella Lewis fears the 2012 figures will be much higher again.

Ms Lewis said: “The Samaritans are particularly relevant to this area because of the increase in reported suicides over recent months.

“Any rise is a worry, but in the last nine months it’s been shocking. There just seems to have been a spate, particularly in young people in their teens and 20s.”

Suicide is a leading cause of mortality in those under 35 years of age.

Ms Lewis added: “Life is so busy, there’s no time to stop and think, and no-one to talk to. Everyone goes so deep into their emotions, and they don’t know how to get out of them when things go wrong. They don’t know who to turn to.”

The UK charity gives emotional support to anyone in emotional distress or at risk of suicide, through texting, email and a free 24/7 telephone helpline, with a regional branch of 38 volunteers based at 21 West Port, Selkirk, on 01750 20000.

“It’s important to have a local branch presence, so people know we are here,” Ms Lewis said. “Samaritans are here to support anyone who is feeling low or unable to cope.”

New figures show that an increased number of Borderers took their own lives in 2011 compared to the previous year.

The statistics from January to December in 2011, collated by the General Register Office for Scotland, show that there were 22 deaths in the Borders by suicide (deaths from intentional self-harm and events of undetermined intent combined) in 2011.

That is seven more than in 2010, and Ms Lewis fears the 2012 figure will be much higher again.

The Samaritans helpline receives over 2.5million calls a year from people suffering from stresses arising from work, relationships, family or society, anxiety, depression, loneliness, abuse and trauma, physical or mental well-being, and suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Fiona Barlow, of the Samaritans in Scotland, said: “The Samaritans are never closed. Nearly every Samaritan volunteer joins because they feel they have something to offer our callers – whether from their own experiences or others.”

The Samaritans can also be contacted on 08457 90 90 90, or at www.samaritans.org