A NEW report published today by a campaigning charity highlights the devastating link between poverty and suicide.

Samaritans Cymru have today launched a report which sets out a number of recommendations to tackle this link in Wales, including a call to Welsh Government to set out a Wales poverty strategy.

A spokeswoman for the charity said: "Each year, between 300 and 350 people die by suicide in Wales, which is around three times the number killed in road accidents.

"It is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 and the leading cause of death of people under 35.

"Alongside this, almost a quarter of the Welsh population (23 per cent) live in poverty. It costs Wales £3.6bn a year; a fifth of the Welsh Government budget."

The spokeswoman said that, in 2016, Samaritans released a research report titled, ‘Dying from Inequality’, which found that suicide rates are two to three times higher in the most deprived neighbourhoods compared to the most affluent.

Among other key findings, the research found that there is a strong association between area-level deprivation and suicidal behaviour: as area-level deprivation increases, so does suicidal behaviour.

Following this release of the research, Samaritans Cymru held an event with partners and stakeholders to discuss how these findings could be addressed in Wales.

Following the discussion, Samaritans Cymru have produced the report ‘Socioeconomic disadvantage and suicidal behaviour – Finding a way forward for Wales’ and developed a number of recommendations which they believe need to be adopted in order to tackle the relationship between suicide and poverty in Wales.

The spokeswoman said: "Amongst our ten recommendations, we believe that a Wales Poverty Strategy is of critical importance.

"The Welsh Government does not currently have an over-arching, broad poverty strategy or action plan to address poverty in Wales, but a specific and targeted approach to tackle it is crucial.

"We are also calling for better public information to support financial literacy and help to reduce unmanageable debt, better support for those bereaved by suicide and a call for specific investment in community groups to tackle loneliness and isolation."

Sarah Stone, executive director for Wales, said there is overwhelming evidence of a strong connection between socioeconomic deprivation and suicidal behaviour in Wales.

She added: "We are pleased to launch our report, which sets out the actions we believe are needed to address this link. Suicide is not inevitable; there are actions we can take so that difficult times do not result in people dying.

“We also want to highlight that the power of communities in Wales. The skills and abilities of the people within them are a major asset which needs to be recognised, supported and utilised.

"Communities in Wales already have the solutions; we just need to forge the links. We also need to realise, as a society, that deprivation is closer to us than we think; we must stop seeing these communities as separate to us.”

Newport East AM John Griffiths AM, who is sponsoring the report launch, said: “I am very glad to sponsor Samaritans Cymru’s report launch which aims to highlight the tragic and disproportionate impact poverty can have in the circumstances that lead to suicidal behaviour.

"This is unacceptable and it is vital that we gain a greater understanding of socioeconomic deprivation throughout Wales."