Impact News

Responding to Violence, Suicide, Psychosis and Trauma

Rise in number dying by suicide

The number of people dying by suicide every year in the UK has gone up slightly after a decade in which the rate has fallen, according to the latest figures released today.

In 2008, 5,706 people over the age of 15 took their own lives.

This compares with 5,377 in 2007.

This is the first rise in the annual rate since there was a sharp increase between 1997 and 1998.

The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), continue to show a marked difference in the number of men and women who die by suicide.

In 2008 there were 17.7 suicides per 100,000 men with 5.4 per 100,000 women.

The group with the highest rates continue to be men aged between 15 and 44. Since 2004 the highest suicide rates among women have been in the 45-74 age group.

The statistics show some variations within England, with the North having the highest rates of male suicide.

But in Wales 2008 saw the lowest rate since 1991 with 266 deaths, although the ONS pointed out the Welsh figures have remained broadly steady in the period from 1991-2008.

Stephen Platt, Samaritans’ trustee and professor of health policy research at the University of Edinburgh, said: “In view of the promising downward trend in suicide in previous years, this could be worrying but it may turn out to be a normal fluctuation.

“However, given the strong research evidence of a link between economic recession and suicide, it is also possible that this is the start of an upward trend in suicide which could continue until there is an improvement in economic conditions.

“Any suicide is one too many and it is vital that we continue to work towards ensuring that fewer people die in this way.

“Samaritans persist in reaching out to those who are at risk of suicide by providing our 24/7 emotional support line and by the work of our 200 branches to support distressed and vulnerable people in their local communities.

“We also work with Government in Westminster and the devolved nations on the national suicide prevention strategies, as well as forming local and national partnerships, such as our new project with Network Rail that aims to reduce suicides on the railways by 20% over the next five years.”

Source: Press Association.

28/01/2010

Filed under: Suicide, ,

Mental health charity fined over employee knife death

Monday, 1 February 2010

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/8491026.stm

A mental health charity has been ordered to pay £50,000 for failing to protect a graduate who was stabbed to death by a paranoid schizophrenic.

Mental Health Matters employee Ashleigh Ewing, 22, was found dead in Ronald Dixon’s Newcastle home in 2006.

Dixon, then 35, later denied murder, but admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

The Sunderland-based charity admitted health and safety breaches and was fined £30,000, with £20,000 costs.

Newcastle Crown Court was told the charity was aware Dixon had a history of violence and refusing to take his medication.

Nonetheless, they sent the Northumbria University psychology graduate, from Hebburn, South Tyneside, to visit him alone at the house in Heaton.

She was stabbed 39 times with four different kitchen knives.

Dixon was jailed indefinitely in 2007

Prosecutor Kevin Donnelly said Miss Ewing’s death was not caused by Mental Health Matters but that further risk assessments and training should have been carried out in order to protect her.

He said: “The prosecution does not suggest that Ashleigh Ewing’s death at the hands of Ronald Dixon was an event that could or should have been foreseen.

“Mental Health Matters failed to identify and respond to the increasing risks to which Ashleigh Ewing was exposed in the course of her employment.”

But he added: “It cannot be said that the failings of Mental Health Matters caused Ashleigh Ewing’s death.”

The court was told that there was no guarantee Miss Ewing would not have been killed had risk assessments been carried out, but that the likelihood could have been reduced.

The judge, Mr Justice Keith, said: “The fact that a life has tragically been lost is a fact which must be reflected in the level of the fine.

“But it goes without saying that nothing can compensate for the loss of Ashleigh’s life, which is of course precious.”

James Maxwell-Scott, defending, said: “Mental Health Matters wishes to apologise unreservedly to her family and the court for the failing which it admits.

“Mental Health Matters is deeply sorry that this tragedy occurred and its thoughts and sympathies are first and foremost with the family.”

In a statement, Miss Ewing’s family said: “It was tragic that she had to pay with her life so that lessons could be learned which might saves lives in the future.”

Pam Waldron of the Health and Safety Executive said: “While Mental Health Matters had procedures in place, paperwork doesn’t save lives. Those procedures and policies have got to be followed through.”

Following his trial in October 2007, Dixon was detained indefinitely.

Filed under: Impact Training, Other Mental Health, psychosis, Violence, , , , , , , ,