Church on the Street in Burnley backing campaign to provide more support for people bereaved by suicide

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A Burnley church is backing a campaign to provide more support for people bereaved by suicide.

Pastor Mick Fleming of Church on the Street (COTS) says he has hosted around 15 to 20 funerals following suicides in the past 12 months – compared to three in the previous year.

The charity works with a new fundraising group, Support After Suicide, and Pendleside Hospice to provide counselling sessions for the people left behind when someone dies in this way.

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"It is terrible what is happening. I have never seen so many people take their own lives. We see more young desperate people who think [suicide] is a way out. Every day, we see people who want to kill themselves. A lot, unfortunately, do take their own lives.

Pastor Mick Fleming, founder of Church on the Street in Burnley.Pastor Mick Fleming, founder of Church on the Street in Burnley.
Pastor Mick Fleming, founder of Church on the Street in Burnley.

"But there is hope, another way out, and people to help."

The church has both an NHS mental health team that intervenes when someone is in crisis and counsellors to work with people on a one-to-one basis to help prevent suicide.

"You have to show them another way out [of their problems]. A lot of the time, when someone comes in for counselling, it is a slow and expensive process. People can take a long time to heal, and the NHS cannot afford it.

"We put [the support] right where people need it: not in clinics but places they are more likely to be, like churches or food banks. We take mental health support to the people."

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COTS also works with counsellors and the hospice to help plug the gap in support for those dealing with the devastating impact of suicide.

"People who have found someone who has died, families, members of the public, they are traumatised. There is nowhere for them to go.

"Bereavement aftercare is important, so we have counsellors and work with the hospice. When someone takes their own life, [vulnerable people feel] it permits them to do it, too. It plants the seed.

"We need more good news stories to show there is a way out. We can help. As a society, we must come together and support each other."

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Jackie Latham, service manager of Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust’s Urgent Care Pathway, Pennine Network, said: “It’s really important that we raise awareness and open up discussions around suicide support. At LSCft, we encourage people to talk if they are struggling with their mental health and are feeling at risk of suicide or self-harm. We, as well as many other services and charities, are here to support you. If someone tells you that they are having suicidal thoughts, always take them seriously. If you feel able to, listen to them and help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling our mental health crisis line on 0800 953 0110.

“Full details of all our services available across Lancashire and South Cumbria can be found on our website,

Support After Suicide is hosting a Three Yorkshire Peaks challenge this weekend to raise money for counselling sessions. To sign up, and for more details, search for the group on Facebook.