ST Helens has the highest suicide rate in England and Wales, new figures have revealed.

The Local Democracy Reporter Service reported in June that St Helens had the fourth highest suicide rate in England, after recording 28 suicides in 2017.

New figures released by the Office of National Statistics has now revealed the borough has the highest suicide rate in England and Wales, based on suicides per 100,000 population.

The figures show that between 2015 to 2017, St Helens had a suicide rate of 17.9 – more than 80 per cent higher than the 9.6 national average.

There were 29 recorded suicides both in 2017 and 2016, with 25 recorded 2015.

A St Helens Council spokesman said: “Suicide is a particularly complex and challenging issue.

“It is often linked with unemployment, job insecurity, mental illness, substance abuse and chronic pain. But we are clear that it is not inevitable.

“Our ambition, like our partners across Cheshire and Merseyside, is to make St Helens a place that supports people in times of crisis, builds individual and community resilience and where people do not consider suicide as a solution to the problems that they face.

“We are working closely with our partners such as the NHS, police, fire and rescue, voluntary sector and the wider population to bring this about.”

In July, a revised suicide prevention action plan was approved by the council’s People’s Board, which is made up of various partners.

The action plan focuses on four main areas – prevention, safer care, support for those bereaved by suicide and intelligence.

A council spokesman said: “We will be particularly focusing on working together with primary care and mental health services, developing a system to minimise the risk of further suicides in communities with high rates, identifying general practice patients at higher risk to improve their support and improving community awareness of suicide prevention.

“Our recent local actions have included activity to improve awareness and help people feel that they can talk to someone when they are having difficulties,” the council spokesman said.

“These include the recent ‘Time to Talk’, ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ and ‘It’s Okay to Talk’ campaigns.”

According to the latest figures, there were 4,451 suicides recorded across England in 2017, down from 4,575 in 2016.

More than three-quarters of those were men.

Marie Rimmer MP previously called for a “uniformity of care” across the country after it was reported that St Helens had the fourth highest suicide rate in England.

Following the latest reveal, the St Helens South and Whiston MP said: “I am extremely concerned that my community has the highest rate of suicide in England and Wales.

“Every death by suicide is a tragedy for that individual and all those who know and love them, and we urgently need to address the causes at the heart of this crisis to be able to save lives.

“St Helens is a close-knit borough, with a strong spirit.

“It is truly saddening that predictors of suicide such as debt, low pay, benefit delays and changes and social isolation are adding such pressure to modern life.

“We must reach and support vulnerable people before crisis point, and it is heart-breaking that some men are particularly at risk because they feel they cannot speak out.”

Christopher Nevitt, from Sutton, contemplated suicide after his mental health deteriorated in 2016.

“When I first became aware that I was suffering with mental health I felt very much alone,” the 27-year-old said.

“I felt I wasn’t able to speak to my closest friends and or my family. I didn’t know who I was anymore, and I was living in a bubble that I only understood.

“I would often find myself thinking about suicide just to end what I thought was my lonely sad life, when in fact this was very much the opposite.”

Christopher’s first breakthrough came when he called the Samaritans.

“At a dark point I came home from work and I was sat in the bedroom in complete darkness,” he said.

“I searched suicide on my phone and the number for Samaritans came up.

“I sat there contemplating whether to phone them or not. I did, I spoke about everything that was on my mind.

“I ended the call feeling refreshed and a sense of satisfaction that someone had taken the time to listen.

“From that point I realised I needed some help.”

After several visits to his GP, Christopher was able to make a full recovery through counselling, although he opted to go private due to a six-week waiting time on the NHS.

Ms Rimmer said the £1 billion into mental health services by 2020-2021 pledged by the government is “wholly insufficient” to tackle the scale of the issue.

She said: “Talking therapies and other services must be fully financed, in St Helens and across the country, so that desperately needed help for those suffering can be accessed quickly.

“I have been working with the male suicide prevention charity CALM on this issue.

“I firmly believe it is the government’s duty to put in place an official ministerial responsibility for suicide prevention, both to address the chronic imbalances in mental health care nationwide and protect some of the most vulnerable in our society.”

On Monday councillors and staff attended a training session in St Helens town hall to promote World Suicide Prevention Day.

A council spokesman said: “While a small reduction in suicides each year would have a big impact on our ranking, one suicide is one too many – that’s why the council is backing an online, interactive suicide prevention training course created by the Zero Suicide Alliance, which provides techniques to enable people to reach out and talk to someone they may be concerned about.

“This is available for anyone in the community to undertake and help them understand the issues and how to deal with them.”

The spokesman said a wide range of services are available in St Helens for anyone wanting to talk about their mental health and wellbeing.

A Samaritans spokesman added: “Anyone can contact Samaritans any time for free from any phone on 116 123.

“This number is free to call and will not show up on your phone bill.

“You can also email or go to to find details of your local branch where you can talk to one of our trained volunteers face to face.”

For more information, visit

Various helplines are also listed on the NHS Choices website via