Suicidal thoughts can be beaten, says GEAR project worker in Gloucester
DEPRESSION is driving more desperate men to take their own lives in Gloucestershire.
The latest figures reveal that the county has more suicides than most others, with men aged 25 to 44 most at risk.
In 2011, the county had the fourth highest number of suicides in England with 73. Hampshire had the most, with 107 that year.
Former addict William Sloane, 43, a project worker at the GEAR homeless charity in Southgate Street, Gloucester, tried to take his own life twice while living in London.
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"I was getting severe headaches and thought I had a brain tumour," he said.
"I was admitted to a psychiatric ward for the first time aged 20. It was very scary. I was in there for eight months. I tried to hang myself in the hospital."
A fellow patient saw William and alerted care staff who saved him. After he was stabilised through medication, he was discharged. But as a drug addict, he found himself sectioned to another mental health ward a couple of years later. When he was released, he attempted suicide a second time.
"I had a blazing row with my sister at her flat in Camden Town, walked out of her front door and threw myself off a balcony eight floors up from 90 feet," he said.
William spent two weeks in a coma and nine months in hospital. He remembers nothing of the fall, but doctors were later forced to amputate his right leg.
Considered as high risk, William was assigned a 24-hour registered mental health nurse. After a six-month detox programme at the Nelson Trust in Stroud, he moved to Gloucester as part of a drug rehabilitation order. A short spell in Wotton Lawn mental health hospital in Gloucester followed. Seven years on, he is clean from drugs and no longer suicidal.
"People will try and deal with problems themselves. Drugs and alcohol help to suppress them," he said.
"Help is available, but it is hard for some people to get admitted into Wotton Lawn to get help. What signs of behaviour do people have to show before they are admitted?
"Some people are left alone to deal with their problems – that can be dangerous."
A 2gether Trust spokesman said: "Admission to an acute psychiatric unit is only one option for treating mental illness, there are many other services such as psychological therapy, primary mental health care, one-stop recovery teams and crisis resolution services that can help.
"If someone cannot be supported and treated within their own home, they may be admitted to a unit such as Wotton Lawn.
"We are pleased to hear Mr Sloane has overcome his illness and is now in a position to help others."
Dr Sola Aruna, consultant in public health, NHS Gloucestershire said the causes of suicide can be complex.
"Since the mid-1990s, suicide rates in the South West have been falling, however in recent years they have started to increase again," she said.
"The rate in Gloucestershire, though not significantly different from the South West average, is higher than the national rate."