NEW figures show that suicide rates in Barrow and Copeland are higher than other parts of Cumbria according to a new report.

According to the report after Blackpool, Cumbria has the highest rate of suicides among local councils in the north west and it is in the top quarter of local authorities with the highest rates of suicide in England.

In Cumbria between 2019 – 2021 the ONS data shows the suicide death rate per 100,000 people was 15.5, which is higher than the England rate of 10·4, and when viewed as localities:

the Allerdale rate was 16.4;

the Barrow rate was 19.2;

the Carlisle rate was 15.9;

the Copeland rate was 19.2;

the Eden rate was 11.7;

and in South Lakeland the rate was 10.5.

Councillors are due to get a progress report on the development of a new action plan to help tackle the issue next week.

Members of Cumberland Council's health and wellbeing board are due to meet in the Civic Centre in Carlisle on Friday, December 8.

They will hear a report on the Cumberland Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2024-2029 and it is recommended they note the work undertaken, endorse the continued work and support the approach and development of the plan.

According to the report national suicide data taken from coroners' reports since 2012 considerable progress has been made in implementing the priorities and actions that were previously set out in the Suicide Prevention Strategy for England.

The report states: "In the last 10 years, one of the lowest ever rates of registered suicides was recorded in 2017, 9.2 registered suicides per 100,000 people.

"In 2018, there was an increase in the suicide rate following several years of steady decline. Although this was partly due to a change in the ‘standard of proof’ required for coroners to record a death as suicide, we know that other factors have played a part too.

"In 2022, two years on from the Covid-19 pandemic, provisional data suggested there were 5275 deaths by suicide registered, a rate of 10.6 per 100,000 people.

"And while, overall, the current suicide rate is not significantly higher than in 2012, the rate is not falling."

According to the report in Cumbria, between January 2020 and October 2023, 287 people died by suspected suicide.

The report states: "Every one of those deaths is a tragedy. They are also a shocking reminder that we must continue to improve suicide prevention action and not only improve the support for those who have lost a loved one to suicide but also make support more available and accessible to those who have had suicidal thoughts."

The council's public health team has a key leadership role on behalf of the council in the coordination of suicide prevention.

The report states: "Central to this is a multi-agency suicide prevention action plan. The previous Cumbria suicide plan, 2019 – 2022 has not been updated."

Reasons for this are due to the local government changes in April 2023 and the anticipated release of the new national suicide prevention in England: five-year cross sector strategy.

The report states: "The National Strategy was published in September 2023 to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day. Previously there has been substantial work undertaken across Cumbria in suicide prevention."

Following the local government reorganisation (LGR) work has continued and the approach in Cumberland is centred on the aim to prevent avoidable loss of life through suicide by working together to prevent all suicides and improving understanding of self-harm and suicide attempts.

The report states: "This paper aims to explain more about the prevalence and causes of suicide and why suicide prevention is everybody’s business.

"It gives members of the health and wellbeing board an overview of the ongoing suicide prevention work and the approach for developing the new strategic action plan in early 2024."

Next Friday's public meeting in the Civic Centre is due to begin at 10.30am.