The number of men committing suicide on Wearside is significantly above the national average, new figures have shown.
According to Public Health England, statistics show that, in Sunderland, 61 men, aged 15-74, took their own lives between 2012-14. That equates to 65.6 people per 10,000 - far above the national average of 50.2.
By contrast, 14 women committed suicide in the same period. That represents 12.6 per 10,000 people, below the national average of 13.7
The figures come as today marks World Suicide Prevention Day, with campaigners putting the topic firmly into the spotlight and reaching out to those who are either contemplating taking their own life or supporting someone who is having suicidal thoughts.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds, with children also being affected by suicidal thoughts.
Tonight, people across the city are being asked to light a candle at 8pm in a show of support for suicide prevention, to remember a lost loved one and for the survivors of suicide.
Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at mental health charity Mind, said: “We lose 6,000 people a year to suicide in the UK and every one is a tragedy. Not all suicides are mental health-related but the majority are and we know that often people struggle in silence because they find it difficult to ask for help.
“If you are feeling suicidal, talking to family and friends can make a real difference. Just telling someone about suicidal feelings can be a relief, and might be a good first step towards getting help. Friends and family can be there for you emotionally, but also help you think about what you need to keep yourself safe and get support.
“If you think someone you know is contemplating suicide, one of the most important things you can do is to talk to them about how they feel and be there to listen. You may feel pressure ‘to say the right thing’, but just being there and listening in a compassionate way is vital to helping that someone feel less isolated and frightened.”
As part of the ongoing work around suicide prevention, the Washington branch of Mind is providing training courses to give people the skills to tackle the issue of suicide head on and the confidence to be there for someone who, behind the scenes, could be contemplating taking their own life.
A LIFE worth living - Suicide prevention - looks at applying and practising the LIFE model - Listen actively. Ask the question; Identify risk; Find coping resources; Enable professional support - for suicide prevention.
Anyone feeling suicidal and unable to talk to someone they know, call your GP, call 999, go to A&E or call the Samaritans (116 123). For information visit www.wellbeinginfo.org/life