SUICIDE rates in Test Valley have declined to the lowest rate since 2002, new figures reveal.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the borough saw a 40 per cent decrease with six suicides last year compared to 10 in 2017.

Last year 6,507 people took their own lives across Great Britain, marking a 12 per cent rise on the previous year.

The figures were released in line with World Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday, September 10, which is an annual awareness raising day organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organisation.

This year’s theme is “Working Together to Prevent Suicide” and letting people know that we all have a role to play and together we can collectively address the challenges presented by suicidal behaviour in society today.

Dr Nick Broughton, chief executive of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust said: "Every suicide has a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities. Preventing suicide is an absolute priority for us: we are members of the national Zero Suicide Alliance and work closely with partners in Hampshire to ensure we are taking a joined up approach to prevention.  "We are encouraged by the figures for some parts of Hampshire, but are not complacent and know there is more to do.

"We are working across Hampshire to ensure the services we deliver support those most in need.  We have a range of inpatient and community mental health services as well as italk, our psychological therapies (IAPT) service delivered in partnership with Solent Mind.

"This year we launched our Mental Health Triage service which has put mental health nurses in the NHS 111 Call centre to offer enhanced care and advice over the phone, 24/7. We are also improving inreach care into acute hospitals and developing our crisis services in the community.

"Next week on World Suicide Prevention Day we will be launching a new suicide prevention campaign and strategy. This aims to raise awareness of suicide prevention to the public, ensure all mental health patients have a safety plan, providing suicide prevention training to all our staff and working in partnership with other agencies to reduce self-harm and suicidal crisis."

Speaking about the national figures Nick Stripe, head of health analysis and life events at the ONS, said: “We saw a significant increase in the rate of deaths registered as suicide last year which has changed a trend of continuous decline since 2013.

"While the exact reasons for this are unknown, the latest data show that this was largely driven by an increase among men who have continued to be most at risk of dying by suicide."

To speak to the Samaritans call 116 123.