SUICIDES among young men in Herefordshire are running at almost twice the national average, according to official new figures.

NHS Digital have compiled data on the number of suicides or deaths from self harm in the three years from 2015 to 2017.

While the English suicide rate among all males aged 15 or above is 15.59 in every 100,000 people, in Herefordshire the rate jumps to 21.22.

Among men aged 15 to 34 the county's rate is nearly double, 23.79 compared to 12.71.

In every age group, the rate among men in the county is higher than the England and West Midlands averages.

Separate research already shows suicide as the biggest single killer of men below 45.

The female suicide rate in Herefordshire is shown as marginally lower than the average, at 4.1.

The figures come with a word of warning. Because of small numbers of deaths in some areas, and some rounding, they cannot be precise.

And because of that Herefordshire Council's interpretation is that there is no difference between the county and the national suicide trend.

In the NHS data, out of 328 local councils, Herefordshire has the 36th highest male suicide rate and the highest compared to all the English county councils.

Actual number of deaths are not given.

In the last figures published by Herefordshire Council, there were 33 suicides over three years from 2012 to 2014.

The total suicide rate then was 6.9. The latest figures show 12.51.

Herefordshire Council, working with expert partners, is due to produce a new suicide prevention strategy this summer.

Current initiatives include Letters of Hope for people who have attempted suicide; a help app for those contemplating suicide; and a Real Lives campaign by the Samaritans.

The council say their analysis shows suicide rates in Herefordshire 'reflect the national trend' and cases have risen and fallen in line with the national average over the last 10 years.

“Although numbers are small (between 10 and 20 a year) we recognise the huge impact suicide has on families and communities."

The suicide prevention strategy "will address key areas highlighted nationally, including limiting access to means of suicide, bereavement and other support for families and the role of the media in helping prevention.

"There will be a focus on the biggest risk factors, which include experience of mental health need or a history of self-harm.”

The Samaritans can be contacted on 01432 269000.