A young lad who has seen a friend buried every year since he was 16 has slammed the lack of support for victims of suicide in Andover.
Ashley Wright, 20, has seen five of his friends take their lives over the past five years.
The youngster, who does not want to name the five men out of respect for their families, four of whom are under 25, says ‘suicide is tearing the town apart.’
Ashley says: “Every time someone takes their own life it devastates the community – their family, their friends. After it has happened, we ask ourselves what we could have done differently to that person would still be with us today, but the fact is, nothing has changed in Andover.”
“It’s not good enough; it’s tearing the town apart.”
Ashley has been working with Fixers, the charity which gives young people a voice, in a bid to secure a drop-in centre for the needy.
From its headquarters in Winchester, Fixers has helped more than 17,000 young people to campaign on issues they feel strongly about.
He says: “There is no support for suicidal people in Andover. I’ve been calling for a drop-in centre for years, but nothing has happened. The reason we have this problem is because there is no-where people can go to talk.”
“There are so many boarded up places that could be used as a centre, but instead all they care about is building new flats.
“It’s heart breaking to know that these young people haven’t got the support they need and it’s driving them to that stage when they think they haven’t got anything left.”
Ashley believes that men are particularly at risk because they struggle to open up about their emotions.
He says: “There’s a trend with men taking their own lives in Andover, and I think that’s because we find it difficult to talk about problems, so we bottle it all up and pretend everything is okay.”
“But I think that if there was the opportunity to go to a drop-in centre, where men could meet one-to-one with a counsellor and receive confidential advice, then that might encourage them to seek help.”
Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that the male suicide rate in the South East is more than THREE times the female rate. The male suicide rate is 18.0 in comparison to the female rate at 5.2.
Meanwhile across the UK the male suicide rate in 2013 was the highest since 2001. The proportion of male to female deaths by suicide has increased steadily since 1981. Overall, the number of suicides in the UK has increased according the 2013 figures.
Ashley says “More lives will be lost unless we can provide a place for people to go in their darkest hour.”
Ashley became a ‘Fixer’ in 2013 after he made it his mission to improve care for residents in his community.
Fixers are young people aged 16 to 25 from across the UK who are motivated to use their past to fix the future for them themselves and others.
He is calling on local businesses to support more Fixer projects so that they might benefit the area.
Ashley says: “I’d like to see more young people working with Fixers and being able to benefit their local community.”
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For more information about Fixers and Ashley’s project, click here.
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