THE suicide rate in Stroud is 40 per cent above the national average, figures released this week have revealed.

Between 2006 and 2008 the number of suicides per 100,000 people in the county stood at less than 10 – below the national average.

But since then the rate has risen to more than 14 people per 100,000, almost 40 per cent above the national average of 10.19.

The latest figures, which take into account deaths between 2010 and 2012, show Gloucester’s suicide rate at 16.43 per 100,000 – the highest in the county – and Stroud’s at 14.42.

The statistics have been compiled in a Gloucestershire County Council report which also reveals that men are three times as likely to take their own lives.

Suicide rates in England fell to their lowest in 2007, however since then there have been rises in most regions including Gloucestershire.

Concerns have been expressed at the possible link with the recession especially as the report shows that men of working age – aged between 40 and 44 – were the group most likely to take their own life.

According to the report 241 suicides were recorded in the county between 2009 and 2012, nine of which were young people between the age of 15 and 19 of which 57 per cent of the deaths were thought to be a result of family discord and bullying.

Only one third of those people contacted mental health services before their death and the report indicated that 72 per cent of the cases were recorded as having nothing to do with mental health issues.

There is no single factor that can prevent suicide as the likelihood of a person taking their own life depends on several factors however suicide prevention in the county is run as a local health priority with councils, police and health organisations working together.

Cllr Dorcas Binns, cabinet member for public health and communities at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “Every suicide case is a tragedy for everyone involved and prevention remains a top priority for the county.

“The reasons why someone might choose to take their life are varied and complex and no one single factor can prevent suicide from occurring.

“Gloucestershire County Council works with partners including schools, district councils, the health sector, the police and voluntary sector organisations to support a number of programmes focused on building resilience and awareness, particularly in young people.”