Suicide bereavement services to open after Southampton and Portsmouth see high case rates

In 2021, the number of suicide findings made by coroners increased by 8% compared to 2020. A total of 4,820 suicide findings were made last year – the highest level since 1995.

ONS data shows that in the South East there has been an increase in the number of people dying by suicide over the past five years, with 625 cases recorded in April-December 2020 compared to 575 cases during the same three months of 2015. While these numbers are tragic enough, there is also a wider impact on those bereaved, with affected communities often experiencing lasting trauma.

People bereaved by suicide have a greater risk of attempting or committing suicide by up to 300% and it is estimated that at least 10 people will suffer a serious impact as a result of each individual suicide. That’s why a new suicide bereavement service has been set up in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

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Amparo (meaning “shelter” or “refuge” in Spanish) provides support to anyone who has been affected by suicide in any way. This means it won’t exclusively help those who are next of kin and instead will tailor support to anyone who needs help.

Amparo aims to reduce the risk for those affected by suicide by offering practical and timely information following sudden bereavement. This can be through advice, support during investigations, help to overcome isolation or individual support from an appointed Amparo liaison officer.

Richard Brown, CEO of Listening Ear, said: “We are delighted with the recent announcement that Amparo will now be available to people living in Portsmouth, Southampton, the Isle of Wight and across Hampshire.” Having started in Merseyside, Amparo will now have support systems for 18% of the English population.

Mr Brown continued: “Supporting people bereaved by suicide is one of the six priorities of the national strategy, “Preventing suicide in England – A cross-government results strategy to save lives, 2012”. Amparo focuses on this support and helps those affected with practical and emotional support.”

According to a suicide prevention plan for Southampton, approximately 26 people commit suicide each year in the city. Meanwhile, a suicide prevention action plan for Portsmouth found the city’s rate was slightly lower at 24 people (78 per cent being male), but both of these rates were above the England average .

There is strong evidence that Amparo has a lasting impact on those it helps. Since service began in other parts of England, none of those supported have committed suicide.

Cllr Matthew Winnington, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing at Portsmouth City Council, said: “We recognize that the impacts of suicide are devastating and far reaching. Amparo will be an invaluable service for adults and children going through an unimaginable time.

“It is important to note that Amparo is not just for those who have been affected by a recent suicide, but for anyone who may have been affected at some point in the past. I encourage anyone in need of support to reach out.”

Amparo is free and has no waiting list. To refer someone who has committed suicide to Amparo you can call 0300 088 9255 or visit their website here.

For anyone who needs help or is worried about someone, the following services offer immediate support:

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