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Suicides prompt mental health plan

Plans to reduce the number of suicides and incidents of self-harm in Wales are to include Jobcentre staff, police and teachers trained to spot signs of mental health problems.

The strategy follows a spate of incidents in which young people apparently took their own lives in Bridgend, near Cardiff.

An action plan to be unveiled by the Welsh Assembly government will include training so that frontline staff can assist people in distress and point them towards specialist help.

Staff in schools, Jobcentre Plus offices, health centres and GP surgeries, police stations and prisons, and workers in voluntary groups will get training.

Officials say the Mental Health First Aid programme has helped staff feel more confident in intervening in situations where people display signs of mental distress.

An Assembly government spokesman said: "A key objective of the action plan will be to raise awareness and understanding of mental health issues so that those at risk can be identified at an early stage and support provided earlier than has often been done in the past."

The Assembly said three-quarters of those who commit suicide are unknown to mental health services in the year before they die.

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