A HEALTH and care partnership is stepping-up its efforts to help reduce suicide rates.

The move comes as new figures show that the number of people in this region taking their own lives is rising.

Between 2017 and last year, there were 12 suicides per 100,000 population in Yorkshire and Humberside – the highest rate in England.

And in the area covered by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, the number has risen from 10.6 per 100,000 between 2016 and 2018 to 11.88.

Across the country, nearly 100 people a week take their own lives.

The partnership says it has identified ten "big ambitions" to address the issue, as part of five-year plans.

Its strategy aims to develop working relationships with partner agencies to provide a practical framework for preventing suicides.

The work will support and complement what is already taking place in areas including Bradford district and Craven.

And it will build on existing partnership schemes.

Last winter, the organisation rolled out a suicide bereavement support service – which was started in Leeds – to the rest of the region, thanks to £173,000 in funding from NHS England/NHS Improvement.

Funds were also secured to enable support workers to provide advice and training for up to 600 men in the area – and to bolster suicide reduction work over the next three years.

The partnership gave its support to this month's World Suicide Prevention Day.

Rob Webster, the partnership's chief executive officer lead, says it is important that everyone helps those who may be experiencing problems.

He added: "We should all do what we can to support people who may be feeling hopeless or helpless, especially in these worrying times.

"World Suicide Prevention Day was an opportunity to do this, as it aimed to inspire people to challenge their beliefs about mental illness and to be more open in their attitudes and behaviour.

"We know that opening-up about mental health is not always easy. As someone who has been personally affected by suicide, I understand the impact not just on the person, but also the devastating affect on family and friends left behind. I know we can reduce the impact by joining forces and working together with West Yorkshire and Harrogate communities."

Dr Michael Doyle, the partnership's lead for suicide prevention, said: "Suicide results from multiple risk factors, including experiences of trauma and loss.

"We know that inequalities compound the risk of suicide among disadvantaged groups and we are taking a multi-agency approach to addressing the root causes while providing help and support for people who are at risk of suicide and serious self-harm.

"Suicide has a huge impact, with many people affected by each death. The gains to be made from reducing these heart-breaking and unnecessary deaths are great, and we are determined to do all that we can to save lives."

The West Yorkshire and Harrogate suicide bereavement helpline can be contacted on 0113 305 5800, or visit wyhsbs.org.uk.