CUMBRIAN charity, Every Life Matters, has expanded its staff team in Barrow to help improve suicide prevention training.

Richard Cupid, the new suicide safer community development worker, will expand the level of suicide prevention training available across Barrow and will support a range of other projects to get people talking about suicide, and understanding better what we can all do to recognise and support people experiencing thoughts of suicide.

The 35-year-old, who joined the Cumbrian charity last month, said: “Having thoughts of suicide is a more common response to life’s challenges than we think – a way of dealing with mental pain we fear we cannot escape from.

“Having experienced suicidal thoughts and behaviours myself, I know that thinking about taking your own life often makes you feel isolated and trapped. This can make it even harder to reach out for the support you need, and sadly, most people who die by suicide do not reach out for help. Suicide is something that must be talked about.”

Alongside his work at Every Life Matters, Richard is an experienced Samaritan and a qualified therapist who runs his own private practice. He has volunteered with local mental health, suicide, and addiction charities in the borough since 2014.

Chris Wood, charity manager, said:“We are really touched by the support of local funders who have allowed us to develop this new post, Sir John Fisher Foundation, and Orsted, through their Walney Extension Community Fund.

“On average, we lose one person a week to death by suicide in Cumbria – more than double the amount of people who die on our counties roads.

“Cumbria’s suicide rates remain consistently higher than the national average and during the last 18 months deaths by suicide in Cumbria have increased even further due to the pressures of the Covid pandemic”

During 2017-19, suicide rates in Barrow were some of the highest in the North of England – 16.9 deaths per 100,000 of the population – compared to the national average at 10.1. Male suicides in Barrow were 26.87 per 100,000 of the population compared to the England average of 15.5.

Richard explained that the Suicide Safer Community project in Barrow was not about starting another frontline support service but focusing on grassroots action in the community.