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States help for suicide prevention programme

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‘SIZEABLE’ government funding has been set aside to support a programme designed to combat suicide and mental illness in Jersey.

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Andy Le Seelleur, who founded the organisation, Thrive, said that suicide was a social problem which needed to be treated as a crisis.

Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. In Jersey, latest figures show that between 2006 and 2016 there were 129 suicides.

The most recent rate for suicide in Jersey, worked out on a three-year average, was eight per 100,000. It hit a peak in 2009 when there were 26 recorded suicides in Jersey, a rise of ten on the previous year and more than 60% higher than the UK average.

A memorial for Islanders who have taken their own lives, organised by Mr Seelleur, is being held tomorrow in the Royal Square at which 146 candles will be lit.

Mr Le Seelleur lost his wife and the mother of his two sons to suicide and has since campaigned for better suicide prevention services.

Since the death of his wife, Mr Seelleur founded the organisation Thrive, which aims to look at issues which drive low moods within the community.

Government funding has been put into the organisation – although Mr Seelleur declined to reveal how much money was being invested.

He said: ‘The amount of funding was sizeable and goes towards the workshops later in the year but I am also hopeful that we will continue to receive funding.’

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Thrive describes itself as ‘a magnet and mindset for positive change that enables our community to thrive. Bringing together the components for solving mental illness – prevention, best care and people power’. It adds that the core aim is to create a society where ‘people can thrive, not just survive’.

Mr Seelleur, who won a Pride of Jersey Award in 2017 for Community Champion of the Year, said that for such a small community, suicide was a big problem in Jersey.

He said: ‘When you look at how beautiful and prosperous a place Jersey is, we have to start to really look at what drives people’s moods down so low.

‘Some of the more commons signs can include unusual levels of tiredness, a history of self-harming as well as substance abuse.

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‘It is essential that the Island has immediate bereavement counselling, as the longer you delay it the higher the risk of someone who was affected by a suicide taking their own life becomes.’

‘Suicide is a social problem which Jersey is a long way off tackling, but the mental health services are taking steps in the right direction.

The new lead for Jersey’s Mental Health service, Dr Miguel Garcia, is calling on Islanders to talk about suicide in a bid to get rid of the stigma surrounding discussing the issue.

He said: ‘My aim is to raise awareness that suicide is not just a mental health issue, it is a much broader societal issue. And I want to stress that by talking to someone about suicide and asking them whether they have suicidal thoughts does not increase the likelihood of them taking their own life, it will help them.

‘If you think you know someone who is suicidal, talk to them about it with a sympathetic ear and make a suggestion that you accompany them to their GP.’

Other events marking World Suicide Prevention Day include free courses run by the Jersey Recovery College to help Islanders learn how to become aware of, and deal with, suicidal behaviour.

Beth Moore, from the college, said: ‘People are often too scared to bring suicide up in conversation, often out of fear that they might make the situation worse.

‘But by asking someone if they ever experience suicidal thoughts, you are giving them permission to speak out about it and seek help.

‘The main message coming through from the course is not to be frightened to talk to someone who you feel might be suicidal and if they disclose they are feeling very desperate to you, then listen to them and signpost them to services which can help them.

‘And if you are feeling suicidal yourself, get help as quickly as you can, as if you can get help when you start to feel unwell then it is more likely that you will get help before the suicidal tenancy becomes life threatening.’

Mental health support contacts:

Mind Jersey 0800 7359404

Samaritans Jersey 116123

Jersey Recovery College run a number of free courses on mental health which Islanders can sign up to online recovery.je/courses

  • Due to Jersey’s small population, suicide rates can fluctuate year to year. Three-year rolling averages are an average of the current year and the two previous years. Doing this allows trend data to be seen. That average spiked in 2009 at 17, dropping by 2013 to eight.

Suicides in Jersey Survey; Confirmed suicides:

2007 – 15

2008 – 16

2009 – 26

2010 – 10

2011 – 8

2012 – 12

2013 – 9

2014 – 8

2015 – 10

2016 – 15

Krystle Higgins

By Krystle Higgins
Reporter

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