A SUICIDE prevention network was launched for the North-East this week as it was revealed the region had the highest suicide rate in England.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, released last week, showed that between 2016 and 2018, the suicide rate in the North-East was 11.3 deaths per 100,000 people. This was the highest death rate of any region in the country – with the rate nationally being 9.6.

Tuesday marked World Suicide Prevention Day, and to aim to tackle the region’s problem, the North East and North Cumbria Suicide Prevention Network was launched at St James’s Park in Newcastle.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics also showed that the North-East had the highest rate of male suicides for the second year in a row, and males in the North-East equated for 226 deaths of the 287 suicides recorded in 2018.

Within Northumberland more specifically, there was a total of 37 suicides last year. Suicide rates in the county matched those across the rest of the region at 11.3, and were at their highest since the 2013 to 2015 period. Mental health charity Mind pointed out that the statistics across the country showed that the suicide rate had increased for the first time since 2013.

Vicki Nash, head of policy and campaigns at Mind, said: “With more and more people coming forward, it’s absolutely crucial that services are equipped to meet the demand, and this cannot be lost among the current political turmoil.

“After years of underfunding and increased demand, we were encouraged by the focus on improving mental health services in the NHS Long Term Plan as well as funding earmarked for mental health. But we need to see meaningful change for people trying to access support now.”