People in Hertfordshire who managed to overcome suicidal thoughts have shared their stories.

Hertfordshire’s Suicide Prevention Network (HSPN) has been working with a range of people in the county to share their lived experiences of suicide to help raise awareness for this World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10).

It comes as recent figures published by the Office for National Statistics showed the number of suicides dropped in Watford and Three Rivers last year.

The latest data shows there were five recorded suicides in Watford in 2019, a drop from 12 the previous year.

And in Three Rivers there were also five recorded suicides last year compared to eight in 2018.

Writing their story on the HSPN website, Alex explained how their mental health “took a turn for the worst” a few years ago before becoming “more open” about their struggles.

They said: “Despite being medicated and out of therapy, I was not happy. Every day I’d go through the motions of waking up, breaking down and then doing whatever I had to do that day, be it work or otherwise.

“Everything blurred together and I experienced life from a distance with a painful weight in my chest. It could have been very easy to cave into those feelings and end my life.”

Alex added: “The biggest problem I had was not opening up about how I was feeling, I’d downplay it far too often which only got me more wrapped up inside my own head.

“I am happy to say things have not gotten as low since then, as I am far more open about my struggles, I am still medicated (on something different) and have been in and out of various therapies and am doing much better! 

“I cannot stress how beneficial opening up and being honest about how I was feeling has been.”

Although the number of suicides decreased in Watford and Three Rivers last year, ONS figures showed Hertsmere had recorded 15 cases in 2019 – the highest since 2002.

Across England and Wales, the overall suicide rate rose to 11 deaths per 100,000 last year, with the rate among males reaching its highest level for two decades – 16.9 deaths per 100,000.

Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day, Hertfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Prevention Cllr Tim Hutchings said: “World Suicide Prevention Day provides the opportunity for us to raise awareness on the importance of suicide prevention. 

“This year our Suicide Prevention Network has worked with a range of inspirational people to share their experiences of suicide. By working together, we can raise awareness and reach our vision that no one in Hertfordshire should feel like suicide is their only option.”

Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (HFPT) has launched a new free helpline: 0800 6444 101 for people in Hertfordshire who are experiencing a mental health crisis, looking for mental health help or just need to talk. Support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

You can also contact Samaritans on 116 123 free of charge at any time.