A MINISTER tasked with leading on suicide prevention will visit St Helens after MP Conor McGinn highlighted the devastating number of people taking their own lives in the borough.

During a House of Commons debate covering the government's plans to reduce the level of male suicides, the St Helens North MP urged Jackie Doyle-Price to visit the borough, which has the highest rate of suicide in the country.

He said: "It devastates me to have to say to the house that St Helens has the highest rate of suicide in the country and three quarters of these who take their own lives are men.

"What we know is that working class in deprived areas are ten times more at risk than those in the most affluent areas.

"So would the minister recognise class and community or poverty and place as key factors in male suicide and its causes and will she come to St Helens to see and support the vital work being done to prevent the tragic crisis of suicide affecting more families in my community?"

Men remain the group at the highest risk of suicide and continue to count for three quarters of all suicides across the country.

The Government says it has invested £25 million to support local suicide prevention plans in every local area.

Jackie Doyle-Price MP, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, responded by saying: "I do agree with what the honourable gentleman said and I would be delighted to come to St Helens not least because the more we can do to share good practice about what is being done to combat male suicide the more we can prevent it because everyone in this space wants to do more to prevent suicide.

"Place is very important too, a big part of my plans is that we are putting good measures in in those places that are particular spots that do attract more suicide."

In September, the Star revealed that 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 – considerably higher than the 9.6 national average.

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

For more information and support on suicide prevention email jo@samaritans.org or go to samaritans.org and visit sthelens.gov.uk/mentalhealthsupport.

There is also various helplines are also listed on the NHS Choices website via nhs.uk/conditions/suicide.