The Gazette is joining organisations across North Devon and Torridge to support World Suicide Prevention Day today (Monday).

And we’re asking individuals and businesses to help spread the message that it’s safe to talk about suicide.

One Northern Devon has drawn up the One Northern Devon Stop Suicide Pledge, which encourages people to talk about suicide and seek help.

New figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week showed between 2015 and 2017, there were 33 suicides in North Devon and 20 in Torridge.

Last year there were 12 suicides in North Devon and seven suicides in Torridge; the figures have dropped over the last three years, which reflects lower rates across the country.

But in the UK and the ROI, 6,000 people still die by suicide each year, which means 18 people are taking their lives every day.

Mental health charity Samaritans said tthe reduction in registered suicides is encouraging, but said that ‘one death by suicide is still one too many’.

What can you do to help?

Public sector, third sector and private organisations can pledge to promote the ‘it’s safe to talk’ message and ensure staff are aware of the support available.

Individual pledges include sharing with people how you’re feeling and identifying someone you’d be comfortable talking to about how you feel.

Other pledges include reaching out colleagues, family or friends, and help anyone who is struggling to get support.

Russ Drayton, joint lead for the Devon and Torbay Suicide Prevention Alliance, said: “People are often very anxious about how to talk about suicide, and worry that if they ask someone if they are feeling suicidal, it might put the thought in their head, but this is not the case.

“If a person is suicidal, the idea is already there. If they aren’t suicidal, it won’t do any harm.

“This campaign and the Stop Suicide Pledge aim to get people talking about suicide and the support available, and to promote the message that it is safe to talk about suicide, because saying something is safer than saying nothing.”

Pledge your support

Throughout the campaign, One Northern Devon wants to get 1,000 people and 50 organisations in North Devon and Torridge signing up to the pledge.

Andy Ibbs, chairman of One Northern Devon, said: “One Northern Devon is all about recognising that we all have a part to play in people’s health and wellbeing and suicide prevention is a great example of this.

“Preventing suicide is not just a health or mental health issue, but something that requires a whole community approach.

“It is fantastic that we’ve been able to come together in developing a joint plan which outlines how we will deliver the Devon Suicide Prevention Strategy locally.

“The first step in this is for the One Northern Devon organisations to sign the pledge, but this campaign is about taking this wider – we want employers, education providers, community organisations and individuals to sign the pledge and get the message out that it is safe to talk about suicide.”

One Northern Devon is a collaboration of public, voluntary and community sector organisations working in northern Devon, including NHS, councils, the police, the fire service and charities.

You can sign the Stop Suicide Pledge and find resources to help you support people here.

For support with talking about suicide, there are some fantastic resources on the Samaritans’ website.

Anyone who feels they need to talk can also contact the Samaritan’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 116 123 for free.