Suicides in Hampshire have declined with the lowest rate in nine years, data released ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day this Sunday shows.

According to The Office for National Statistics, Hampshire saw a ten per cent decrease with 88 suicides last year compared to 98 in 2015, and nine people carried out suicide in the Test Valley borough in 2016.

Last year 5,668 people took their own lives across Great Britain, which is the lowest since 2011.

World Suicide Prevention Day is an annual awareness raising day which takes place on 10 September, organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevent and the World Health Organisation.

This year’s theme is about connecting with others and letting people know #ITSOKAYTOTALK.

Hampshire Police is one body integrating this strategy into its four-year piloted programme called Serenity Integrated Mentoring, in which police officers are designated to work with mental health nurses intensively supporting high suicide risk service users and working through their complex needs.

The integration of services and support, and the wider High Intensity Network programme won the bid from the NHS Innovation Accelerator for a year’s funding and accelerating the implementation of the scheme, which in ten months saw 15 NHS trusts signed up.

NHS England have committed to roll out the initiative nationwide, and Hampshire Police project lead Sergeant Paul Jennings told the Advertiser the results are very positive and suicides are being prevented.

Sgt Jennings said: “This is an international multi-billion-dollar health problem and we just found the solution to it.

“What we do each year, we are really intensively supporting people who did not have anything before, and we are picking up the causes of why they feel they need to do what they do, and give them proposals such as encouraging to go volunteer, reconnect with family or children, solving complex needs at the same time which works for the patient’s better future and reduces demand.

“We are definitely preventing suicide, and mental health detentions by police are decreasing- it went from 20 or so to none two months ago.

“The Isle of Wight are running it and Portsmouth is launching it soon. Surrey have also launched it and the team come and work in North Hampshire as well.”

The police chief’s advice for members of the public who may know someone struggling with mental health, was that sometimes people just need to be listened to.

“The first thing really people should do is speak to the person, mental illnesses look scarier than they are.

“What we find about 75 per cent of people who call us can be left in the community, we can de-escalate the crisis, and the public can too. Mental health is everybody’s business.

“If you are not confident in doing that then call us or the local mental health team as that is also why we are here.”

The Samaritans are advising people in the wake of World Suicide Prevention Day for the public to start a conversation with others, reach out to those struggling to cope as it can give them the confidence to open up about how they are feeling.

To speak to the Samaritans call 116123,or to get more advice and information for local well-being services call Andover Mind on 0300 5000 907.