As a Councillor we often have people approach us with various different problems. these problems come in many guises and its important for us to remember that to the people coming to us these issues are upsetting enough that they feel they need to speak up.
For some people when the come to us as Councillors it is out of desperation, They may of all ready spoken to other agencies and and feel there is no where left to turn and see us as a last desperate throw of the dice.
Once a month my fellow Councillors in SW Ipswich hold a advice surgery. Yesterday while at our surgery I saw a young man come in with his child, he kept looking over and hovering around without coming over. I approached him and asked if he wanted to talk he explaned that he would like to book an appointment as he did not feel comfortable speaking in public I explained that would be fine but offered to discuss in a side room,we left his 11 yr old daughter reading a book while we went to talk.
I wont go into details of his case but he was very upset and as soon as we sat down there was an outpouring of emotion and he explained that his problems had driven him to near suicide. we sat and talked and I assured him I would look into his issues but we also spoke about him seeking help about seeing his GP and about the help the Samaritans can offer.
I was glad that I was there for this gentleman to speak to,I will keep in regular contact with him but far to many people don`t come forward and dont seek help. Stats realised from the ONS show the suicide rate for the UK is at highest since 2004 (ONS do note that there have been changes in the way suicide statistics are calclated)
Stephen Platt, Samaritans’ Trustee and Professor of Health Policy Research at the University of Edinburgh, has recently commented
“Suicide is a social, as well as mental health, issue. Samaritans research shows that disadvantaged men in mid-life today are facing a perfect storm of challenges – unemployment, deprivation, social isolation, changing definitions of what it is to be a man, alcohol misuse, labour market and demographic changes have had a dramatic effect on their work, relationships and very identity.
“We also found that men judge themselves against a gold standard of masculinity set by society and when they can’t meet these expectations they can feel worthless, unvalued, a deep sense of shame and that there is no reason for them to live.
“Employment is still central to the masculine role, so the increase in unemployment experienced by this group of men due to the decline of heavy industries as well as in the context of the economic downturn may be particularly devastating. Unemployment can also contribute to relationship strain and breakdown and social isolation for men.
“It is high time that national suicide prevention strategies address suicide as a health and social inequality at both national and local levels”
I am pleased with the work that the Samaritans and Time To Change are doing to raise awareness and encourage people to come forward, But there is still more to be done and we need to make sure that people know that help is out there and they are not alone.
The Samaritans in Ipswich can be contacted 24 hours a day on 01473 211133 the address is 140 St.helens st Ipswich www.samaritans.org/ipswich-eastsuffolk
Or across the UK on 08457 90 90 90 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org