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10 September 2012

Bringing hope, preventing suicide

Every 40 seconds, someone in the world commits suicide.

Suicide is now among the three leading causes of death among people aged between 15 and 44 in some countries.

It is the second leading cause of death in those aged between 10 and 24.

And it's a problem that is getting worse and not better. In the past 45 years, suicide rates have increased 60 per cent worldwide.

This is why the World Health Organization is running World Suicide Prevention Day today, to raise awareness and commitment to preventing suicide around the world.

In England, where around 4,200 people took their own lives in 2010, suicide is most prevalent among men aged between 35 and 49.

The government has today revealed a £1.5 million suicide prevention strategy which will focus on reducing suicide rates among children and young people, as well as people who have a history of self-harm.

Norman Lamb, care services minister, said: "One death to suicide is one too many – we want to make suicide prevention everyone's business.

"Over the last 10 years there has been real progress in reducing the suicide rate, but it is still the case that someone takes their own life every two hours in England.

"We want to reduce suicides by better supporting those most at risk and providing information for those affected by a loved one's suicide."

Christians Against Poverty (CAP), which works with people who have accumulated debt, said four in 10 of their clients say their debt problems have driven them to contemplate suicide.

Matt Barlow, chief executive of CAP, said: "Significant changes in circumstances can trap people into debt – job loss, illness and relationship breakdown are common ones – but these are emotional issues as well as financial and can lead to feelings of deep despair as the debt spirals and life becomes unbearable.

“Most worryingly, the number of new clients who have told us they were feeling suicidal has risen by three per cent in a single year.

“This gives us new determination to get our message out: We want those who feel they have reached rock bottom to know they are not on their own and that recovery is possible. We know that because we see people come back from their darkest moments every day.”

The charity currently has 205 church-based centres offering a free award-winning service. The care of trained centre managers is backed by the financial expertise of the Bradford head office, enabling clients to receive face-to-face home visits while experts contact and negotiate with their creditors centrally.

One mum-of-two from Nottingham struggled with debts after a marriage breakdown.

“I got depressed because of a lot of things, the debts and the feeling that I’d let my sons down," she said.

“Everything was in such a mess. You feel guilty which leads to depression. The doctor put me on medication and one night, I tried to commit suicide.”

Now, paying off what she owes with a budget drawn up by the charity, and supported by her local CAP centre, her outlook has radically changed.

“It’s wonderful now. Each day I feel I’m blessed for another day.”

She laughed: “I used to be a downtrodden woman and now I’m a woman who is out and about, always helping everyone else.”

Read about Cathy Wield's journey from despair to hope.