suite' es praised
• •d • HE work of the Samaritans for people in despair was put forward last week as one reason for the steady decrease in the number of suicides in England and Wales since 1963.
Dr. Richard Fox, consultant psychiatrist at Severalls Hospital, Colchester, said the number of suicides dropped again last year, to just over 4,500. Each year since 1963, when the Samaritans began their service on a national basis, there had been a steady decrease of between 200 and 400.
Dr. Fox said the figures showed that in 15 towns where the Samaritans operated, there was a reduction in suicides of nearly 6 per cent., while in 15 similar towns without Samaritans, the figures went up by an average of almost 20 per cent.
The movement had already helped 164,000 people, and by the beginning of November they would have 100 constantly manned telephones throughout the country.
Mr. Maxwell Atkinson, of the sociology department of Lancaster University, said one area of need which the Samaritans were not covering as well as could be wished was the elderly.
They had the highest suicide rate of all age groups, but were under-represented by about half among Samaritan clients.
Dr. Fox and Mr. Atkinson, were both speaking at the International Conference for Suicide Prevention, held in London last week.
LOW ESTEEM Another speaker, Dr. J. Dominian, consultant psychiatrist of the Central Middlesex Hospital, said that among those most vulnerable to suicide were men and women with low self-esteem.
Dealing with suicide as a gesture in marital breakdowns, Dr. Dominian said that in such cases the need for reassurance and approval was great, the capacity to receive and accept was minimal and the feelings of guilt for their need and anger was considerable.
In several hundred couples with marital difficulties, Dr. Dominion said he had found three significant factors. These related to emotional dependence, deprivation and selfesteem, all of which were of crucial importance.