A MAJOR campaign has been launched to reduce suicide rates across the region.

Several organisations, including Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, have joined forces to tackle the issue.

The initiative comes as figures show that the number of suicides in Yorkshire and Humber in 2015, the latest year for which data is available, was the highest in England.

The regional total was 544, of which 44 were in Bradford district and one in Craven.

Nationally, nearly 100 people a week take their own lives.

Suicide is the biggest killer of people aged under 35 and men below 50.

Under a new plan, the aim is to cut suicide rates by ten per cent across West Yorkshire and Harrogate – and by 75 per cent in targeted areas.

The care trust – which operates the Centre for Mental Health, at Airedale Hospital – said it was delighted to be involved in the venture.

Simon Long, the interim deputy director of mental health acute and community services, said: "The trust is fully committed to a zero approach to suicide prevention.

"We are delighted to have contributed to the development of the West Yorkshire-wide strategy.

"We'll continue to work with public and private-sector agencies to look at new ways of making suicide prevention a central focus."

The plan sets out how GPs, social workers, commissioners and people working in communities can together help identify those at risk sooner.

Other measures could include a special phone app and improvements to care for children, young people and adults at risk of self-harm.

Mike Doyle, the regional lead for suicide prevention, said: "The most important part of this collaboration is the view that suicide can be prevented.

"It should no longer be seen as an inevitable outcome for people, but as something we can work together to successfully avoid. It is not a foregone conclusion for anybody and there is always the hope that things will improve.

"This new way of working is all about creating a culture where everyone can talk about their mental health without fear, embarrassment or judgement – and where everyone comes together to support people so that suicide is avoided."

At a strategy launch event, ex-professional rugby league player Danny Sculthorpe – trustee of the charity State of Mind – spoke about his own experiences of living with mental health and the impact it had on his work, life and family.