THIS week in the House of Commons, I took Government health ministers to task over the shocking rise in the suicide rate in Rochdale.
The official figures from Public Health England make damming reading. Since 2010, the number of people in the borough who have taken their own lives each year has risen by 25%.
The Government claims to prioritise mental health, but we can see little evidence of that here in Rochdale. The Department of Health needs to act quickly on this issue before even more lives are needlessly lost.
I have visited the Rochdale branches of the Samaritans and Mind on numerous occasions and have seen first hand the excellent work these charities do. But this work needs to complemented by a well resourced and properly funded NHS services.
On Thursday, Parliament hosted a discussion to coincide with International Men’s Day, addressing the alarming rise in suicides specifically among men.
Suicide is now the biggest killer of men under the age of 50. Across the UK, male suicide rates are consistently over three times higher than among females.
More Government funding is only one answer to this complex issue. We also need a significant cultural change.
Part of the reason that so many men take their own lives is that they often wrongly believe they have nowhere to turn and no one to talk to.
Earlier this year, I went public with the fact that I had been suffering with mental health problems in the hope it would encourage others to be more open.
While greater funding for NHS services is vital, we all have a part to play to make sure no one has to face these challenges alone.