A MAJOR conference will be staged this month to promote suicide prevention in Swindon – an issue which has risen dramatically since 2005.

The forum, organised by charity Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (Sobs), will see around 70 volunteers, mental health and medical experts, as well as social workers, gather at the County Ground to ensure those most at risk do not fall through the net, and that adequate support is available to those they left behind.

Strong collaboration and open discussions from the outset was the most proactive way to tackle the problem in Swindon, according to Sobs trustee Jacky Parry.

“It’s a big issue in the area and it’s not going away,” said Jacky, who launched the self support group for people struggling to cope with the loss of loved ones to suicide along with Jan Kilby and Maureen Patrick last September.

“And for many people who have lost someone it’s a hidden and isolated trauma.

“The conference is about prevention. We want to make sure things are happening in Swindon. It’s about raising awareness of suicide and depression and being armed to prevent suicide. There is a lot of stigma around it and it’s not talked about.”

Figures released by Swindon Council earlier this year revealed that suicide was on the rise in the town with 26 deaths reported in 2012 compared to 11 in 2005.

“We want to think about what we can do together to support the people that may be at risk,” added Jacky.

“It is about professionals and charities collaborating and allowing us as Sobs trustees to talk about the work we do with survivors and in the locality.” Speakers at the forum will include, Anthony Harrison, consultant nurse at Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership, Frances Mayes, Swindon Council’s senior public health manager, and Sobs survivors.

Sobs launched in September last year and provides a safe, confidential environment in which the bereaved can share their stories and feelings, giving and gaining support from each other. It is aimed at over-18s.

l To book a place at the conference email Jacky Parry at jackyswindonsobs@gmail.com To attend Sobs’s monthly support meetings call Jacky on 0754 3242332. Alternatively visit www.uk-sobs.org.uk.