CONCERNED hospital bosses have acknowledged a need to “widen the remit” in order to better tackle the county’s worrying suicide rates.

Public Health England data shows there were 501 cases of suicide in Essex between 2017 and 2019, the latest period for which data is available.

The area’s suicide rate therefore sits at around 13 per 100,000 population, which is the highest since records began and an increase from 11.7 between 2016 and 2018.

More specifically the latest findings from the Office of National Statistics show Colchester recorded 44 suicides last year, while Tendring saw 27.

Worryingly these numbers mark the highest recorded since 2002 for both areas.

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

Speaking at a governing board meeting, Ed Garret, head of the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, stressed a need to do more to combat suicide rates.

He said: “It is a huge concern for us in Essex, so we have agreed to raise the stakes in terms of our commitment to addressing this challenge.

“I want there to be a strong local focus on the challenge of suicide and there is a strategy being developed by the Essex Health and Wellbeing board.

“It’s suicide prevention training which we need to scale-up and roll out and be more proactive about.”

Pam Donnelly, director of Colchester Council, also called for better mental health provisions to be considered and put in place.

“My plea is we look at ways of better engaging and we need to widen the remit with regards to the prevention of suicide,” she added.

“There is quite a lot in the context of better knowing our communities.”

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

Mark Cory, leader of Colchester Council, suggested there needs to be better consideration for people’s mental health now more than ever.

He believes the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, be financially or otherwise, is having a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of many.

He added: “We clearly have a challenge on our hands, and we need to support people, because things will get worse before they get better in the economic market.

“I am happy to try and give further support because everyone is facing a real mental health challenge at this point.”