Shocking figures reveal two people a day visit Doncaster hospital after deliberately harming themselves

Two people a day arrive at hospital after self harming
Two people a day arrive at hospital after self harming

Two people a day visit Doncaster hospital after self harming themselves, it has been revealed.

The figure comes as public health officials draw up plans to try to stem the number of people deliberately killing or injuring themselves in the borough with a new action plan set to be rolled out.

Alan Lockhart, aged 40, committed suicide in 2010. He cited his gambling addiction as one of the reasons in his suicide note. His mum, Anne Evans, is now working on a campaign to create awareness of the services available to people in Doncaster with gambling addictions.

Alan Lockhart, aged 40, committed suicide in 2010. He cited his gambling addiction as one of the reasons in his suicide note. His mum, Anne Evans, is now working on a campaign to create awareness of the services available to people in Doncaster with gambling addictions.

Officials have revealed that between April 2016 and January 2017, 591 emergency admissions were recorded at Doncaster Royal Infirmary under the cause of injury 'intentional self-poisoning and self injury'.

The figures come on top of the most recent suicide figures in the borough, which recorded 81 people had killed themselves between 2013 and 2015.

Of those, 84 per cent were male.

A draft report shown to Doncaster Council's Health and Adults Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Panel also reveals Doncaster has more people than average aged between 35 and 64 taking their own life, with 22.4 per 100,000 compared to 20.5 per 100,000 nationally.

Sarah Smith, public health improvement co-ordinator for Doncaster's Improving Lives Team said: "We have seen the figures for self harm and for suicide. What we want to do is increase the connectivity between accident and emergency and other local services.

"We are trying to develop a protocol between A and E and specialist mental health services to do more to help those who present themselves at hospital with self inflicted injuries.

"The concern for us is that self harm may be a predictor of suicide attempts later. The more we can do with these people, the more we can stop possible future suicides."

It also reveals that the most recent survey in the borough showed 27 per cent to be aged 51-60.

The largest number geographically were found to be in Balby, in the DN4 postcode area.

The survey found:

*19 per cent were unemployed;

*16 per cent were retired.

*Two were under police investigation due to serious allegations

*Five had recently seen their marriages break down.

*Three had spoken of financial worries.

Now public health officials have drawn up a plan to to try to prevent suicide and self harm incidents.

There are plans to adopt a suicide review process which would be similar to how the authorities investigate child deaths, and drug related deaths. It is planned to start at the beginning of 2018.

After that, a review of suicides will take place every six months, and reviewed by a panel of experts.

Action plan drawn up

Government officials say suicide can be prevented - and public health experts in Doncaster are rising to the challenge.

The Government has asked all local authorities to draw up suicide prevention plans, and an action plan is already on the way in the borough.

Important elements of the scheme include:

*Working with A and E to offer help to people who self harm

*Training sessions which they hope will encourage people to speak to those who may be at risk

*Creating support groups for men.

*Reducing access to items that could be used for self-harm.

*Working on support for bereaved people.

*Reducing social isolation.

It follows on from a conference on the issue of suicide which was attended by dozens of experts in the borough to discuss the issue.

The training sessions have started already. It is a programme which has offered hundreds of people the chance to find out about danger signs and what they should do, called SafeTalk.

Sarah Smith, public health improvement co-ordinator for Doncaster's Improving Lives Team said: "SafeTalk training has had a lot of people wanting to do it. Everyone leaves the room feeling confident about asking questions that previously they may have tried to avoid."

The support groups are expected to start for the first time this year. The plan is to launch it with a five-a-side football competition, with teams split into different occupations, to show people of all backgrounds can experience issues.

The group would be called ManKind.

Ms Smith said: "ManKind will be a starter, and it is about raising awareness of the issue in men. The group will be able to meet anywhere, wherever the members want to meet, even in people's homes if that is what they want.

"One of the key things is getting people talking to each other."

Doncaster Council public health theme lead for vulnerable adults, Helen Conroy said: "We are producing suicide prevention plan, and we have already had a conference attended by 80 professionals.

"We are also going to do another suicide audit in 2018, where we will look at cases in more depth. From a public health point of view is about knowing what's happening locally, and if there are clusters, being able to respond as quickly as possible.

Case study

Alan Lockhard took his own life in 2010 after racking up huge gambling debts.

Just four months before his death, Mr Lockhart, who was separated from his wife and lived alone, lost a cafe he ran in Thorne, near Doncaster, after he could no longer pay the bills.

His friends had no idea of the problems he was suffering, and his death came completely out of the blue, said his mum, Anne Evans, of Woodfield Plantation, Doncaster.

She said Alan's habit transformed him from a charming and popular person into someone that was unrecognisable to his family. After running up a massive debt and decades of fighting the addiction, which started when he was just 16, Alan took his own life, citing his gambling habit as being at the root of the problems in his suicide note.

Today, Anne is working with some of betting’s biggest names to create awareness of the dangers gambling poses to people across Doncaster.

She is pleased that there is action planned to try to help those at risk of suicide, but is not sure it would have helped her son.

She said: "I think with suicide from gambling, people tend to keep it to themselves, and keep it all locked up. They carry on gambling until they can't take any more. It would help though if there is somewhere for people to go for help.

"I don't know if a support group would have helped Alan. Even his friends had no idea that he was thinking of taking his own life. He had all sorts of plans for doing things, and everyone was surprised and upset because of what happened. He gave no indication of what he was thinking of doing.

"I would like to see a situation where people were more open about this issue. I know the Samaritans are doing a good job.

"I would also welcome more support for the bereaved families.

"Our family was in disarray after Alan died and we had no idea where to go for help.

"Posters in A and E may help both those who are at risk of suicide and the families. I think people are reluctant to talk about it as an issue because the people who are left are very anxious about what caused it and if there was anything they could have done."

Anne eventually was referred to an organisation called SOBS - Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide. They put her in touch with a group in South Yorkshire of people who had been through a similar experience to her.

"It was a big relief to speak to someone in the same boat as me," she said.

* If something is troubling you, you can get in touch with Doncaster Samaritans on 01302 327474 or the free number 116 123.