Blackpool’s unenviable status as having one of the highest suicide rates in the country could be being made worse by the town being considered a “suicide destination”.
It has been suggested that some people in despair may be coming to the resort as a final destination when they decide to take their own lives, meaning there may not be so many cases among actual residents.
This has been offered as a possible factor for the grim statistics, first revealed last year, which confirmed that Blackpool’s suicide rate is 17 per 100,000, almost twice the national average of 10 per 100,000 and fourth highest in the country.
Blackpool Council discussed the matter when Coun Graham Cain, Cabinet Secretary for Resilient Communities, opened up the full council to questions over his report on Blackpool’s Public Mental Health Action Plan 2016/2019. The plan is aimed at promoting mental wellbeing in Blackpool and preventing mental health problems, which are recognised as serious.
Coun Tony Williams, the Conservative leader of the opposition, said that while the resort’s problems were stark, the figures could appear even worse because Blackpool had become a magnet for those wanting to end their lives.
He said: “Our suicide rate is high compared to the national average but it is a suicide destination - not everyone is a resident. So that statistic could be distorted.”
Coun Cain responded: “It is perceived we are a suicide destination but we are not exclusive in that. It is certainly worth reporting back and we will work with the coroner to get some data on this, if he can provide some information.”
Disturbingly, figures last year also confirmed Blackpool was top of the country’s self harm list.
The overall aim of the Action Plan is to provide a framework for the promotion of mental health and resilience in Blackpool.
The plan focuses on four key areas: promoting good mental health and resilience across the population; preventing mental ill health and suicide; reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness; and improving the quality and length of life of people with mental illness.
Preston topped the suicide list with 18.6 cases, followed by Middlesbrough, with 17.6.
The Samaritans, which runs a support line for people in despair, says there is no clear reason for the North West’s high suicide rate.
nSamaritans helpline is 116 123.