TARGETED action will be taken across Essex after it was revealed the county had some of the highest suicide rates in England.

Five areas have higher rates than the England average – Colchester, Chelmsford, Harlow, Maldon and Tendring.

With the exception of Norfolk, Essex is the only authority in the East of England to have a suicide rate for persons higher than the England average.

Across England, there were 10.3 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2018.

Between 2016-18 the rate was 16 deaths per 100,000 persons in Tendring and 13.1 per 100,000 persons in Colchester.

Essex County Council is now working on campaigns and plans to get people help.

People most at risk included young people, survivors of abuse, military veterans, minority groups and people who misuse drugs and alcohol.

A report set to go before the council’s health board said: “If correct, then this may account for some of the trends, for example, the large number of veterans in Colchester due to the Garrison.

“However, without the detailed analysis of local audit of coroner’s records, it is conjecture only, and does not explain the increase in Maldon and worsening trend in Chelmsford.”

As part of the action planned the council launched its Never too late, mate campaign last month.

The project is intended to encourage men to speak out about mental health issues they may be experiencing and to seek support.

Other plans include support for veterans with a pilot with Colchester Garrison which will see them get free legal advice in family law matters.

The council will also look to expand training offered to workplaces, offer free mental health first aid training to hairdressers and community groups and work with the Essex Men’s Shed Network.

County Hall also wants to come to an agreement with the coroners for Essex, Southend and Thurrock to conduct an audit of suicides for 2018 to “better identify and address any particular reasons or themes for the increase in the number of deaths by suicide in different parts of the county”.

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