Football tackles suicide fears

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FOOTBALLERS recently battled it out in a five-a-side competition which was organised to raise awareness of suicide.

A total of 16 teams took part in the event which was part of National Suicide Prevention Week at the Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility on Wednesday, September 12.

This was the sixth year of the competition during National Suicide Prevention week, and more than 100 players took part representing teams from across Lanarkshire.

Sides included McDonald’s, NHS Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire Leisure and Shotts Healthy Living.

Earlier this year, the North Lanarkshire five-a-side tournament was praised in the House of Commons for its pioneering project.

The event was organised by Greg Burgess, Choose Life co-ordinator for North Lanarkshire Council and supported by North Lanarkshire Leisure who run the Ravenscraig facility.

Greg said: “Sport is a great way to reach people with messages about suicide prevention.

“Being aware of the signs means we might notice when someone is considering suicide and we could then offer support and possibly help save a life.

“Everyday around two people die from suicide in Scotland with three out of four being male.

“In 2002, Choose Life a 10 year strategy and action plan was launched to reduce suicide in Scotland.”

He added: “Football can have a positive impact on a person’s mental wellbeing and participants were told about the impact suicide can have on the lives of not just those thinking about suicide but the effect it can have on friends and family.

“Choose Life want people to tell friends and family if they’re having thoughts of suicide.”

Scotland has the highest suicide rate in the UK and it is the leading cause of death in those under the age of 35 years.

Councillor Sam Love, convener social work services with North Lanarkshire Council, said: “is a great way to bring people together and make them feel part of a team and community.

“Suicide has a devastating impact on lives, and this event is a great way of raising awareness about what is a very sensitive issue which affects so many people.

“Every suicide is a tragic loss of life and we all have a role to play in suicide prevention.

“Choose Life’s campaign encourages people to talk about suicide and this will help to save lives by reaching out to those thinking about suicide and giving them the help when they need it most.”

Three-time champions from the Time Capsule, Coatbridge finally lost their title with East Kilbride McDonald’s team claiming the winners trophy and the Shotts Healthy living team scooping the fair play trophy.

In North Lanarkshire, there were 49 deaths from suicide in 2011, but latest Government figures show that there has been a 17 per cent fall in suicide rates across Scotland in the last three years.

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