EARLIER this year, a heartbroken mother issued an impassioned plea after her life was turned upside down by suicide.

Liz Nolan lost her second child Jamie in 2013 after he was found hanged following a long battle with mental health issues.

Mrs Nolan stressed that even five years on from her son’s death, society continues to lose more and more lives due to mental health issues.

READ MORE: Where can I get help if I'm struggling with suicidal thoughts?

In July, we reported how a devoted dad from Bolton sent a heartbreaking final text to his partner and children before taking his own life on the Thelwall Viaduct.

Michael Biggar had shown no signs of depression before his death.

When he died, his family made a public plea to remind everyone that “it’s ok not to be ok” in the hope of preventing another family from suffering the same heartache.

Just two weeks previously, a coroner ruled that a promising medical student had indented to end her life after jumping from a balcony in a John Lewis department store while out with her parents.

Hannah Bharaj’s parents watched on in horror as their daughter fell from the balcony, causing her ‘catastrophic injuries’.

An inquest heard how the student was battling severe anorexia and depression, believed by doctors to have been triggered by the death of both her her grandfather and uncle within months of each other.

This week, it was revealed that suicides across the UK have risen to a 16-year high, and increase, figures show, driven mainly by suicide among boys and men.

And while the problem of suicide in Bolton is still something authorities are working hard to tackle, the same set of figures shows that for the past three years, fewer people have been taking their own lives — down from 33 in 2016 to 23 in 2018.

Services across the town have been grown significantly over the past five years — more businesses are ensuring their staff are trained in suicide prevention and groups, workshops and campaigns are popping up regularly.

In May, Bolton Council launched their Shining a Light on Suicide campaign, an initiative launched to encourage people in Greater Manchester to talk about suicide.

The project was implemented to prevent suicides and aims to take the subject out of the dark by encouraging people to become more open when it comes to discussing suicide.

Councillor Andy Morgan, executive cabinet member for adult services and safeguarding said the council, along with health and voluntary partners, will never stop working to reduce suicide rates to zero.

He said: “While it is encouraging that the number of suicides has gone down, there is no acceptable number of deaths.

“Suicide remains a taboo subject but the recent ‘Shining a light on suicide’ campaign has aimed to raise awareness of how talking about suicide can help.

“High profile personalities and local people have shared their experiences to show that it is good to talk.

“Our work with our partners includes reducing the risk of suicides in certain groups. Around 75 per cent of local suicides are among men, and the average age of suicide in Bolton during the last 12 months is 41 years.

“So, for example we are working with the Rugby Football League and its mental health programme, as part of the Rugby League World Cup, to raise awareness of the appropriate advice and support, and care if necessary.”

In 2017 the council, NHS and voluntary organisations, produced a plan which set out a clear ambition for ‘no more suicides’ in the borough.

The overall aim of the plan is to develop an approach to health and wellbeing which promotes good mental health across the population, to prevent mental illness and suicide, and to improve the quality of life of people living with mental illness.

Don, director of the local Samaritans branch, spoke with The Bolton News.

He asked his full name not be published so it would not prevent people who knew him from phoning if they needed help.

He said: “One death to suicide is one death too many. We are lucky here in Bolton, we have a good team of volunteers who do their all for those in need.

“We have also support from the local CCG, which many branches don’t have.

“We offer support to anyone who is experiencing anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts. not every call is an emergency, but it is about stopping as many people as possible from getting to the stage where it is an emergency.”

Anyone in need can call or e-mail the Samaritans, but there is also a room available in their building on Bark Street East if anyone needs somewhere to go to talk.

‘A whole community and regional approach’ is what is needed to aid suicide prevention according to Gill Green, the Director of Nursing and Operations for Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

She said: “Suicide prevention is a complex and challenging task, which requires a co-ordinated, and multi-agency approach. Our work with our partners includes supporting high risk groups such as men in their forties and fifties and individuals with a mental health problem or a substance misuse problem.

“An example of this is our work with Follo FC - a football team for dads that have sadly lost a child.

“GMMH sponsors the team and are involved in a football tournament on 15 September to highlight Suicide Prevention.

“The ‘Game of Hope’ will include teams made up of military veterans, support groups and Follo FC and will be refereed by Jon Rouse, Chief Officer of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, with GM Mayor Andy Burnham in attendance.

“People are often fearful talking about suicide when feeling this way or trying to support someone. To tackle this, as part of the ‘Shining a light on suicide’ campaign, our Recovery Academy is running a one-day course encouraging people to talk about suicide, which will be available from October.”