Cumbrian firms are being urged to train staff in suicide awareness.

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce made the call to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day, which took place last week.

It is asking firms to consider looking into courses offered by the organisation Every Life Matters, which are available online.

Chamber chief executive Rob Johnston said: “An average of one person a week dies by suicide in Cumbria, which is a shocking statistic, and we know that the coronavirus pandemic has made the problem worse.

“But suicide is preventable. This course enables participants to understand how to spot when someone is at risk, how to talk about suicide and how to offer practical support.

“These are potentially life-savings skills, which is why we’re encouraging business to put forward one or more employees for the training.”

The chamber has previously urged businesses to tackle mental ill health in the workplace and last year helped to launch ‘This is Me’ in Cumbria, a national campaign to end the stigma around mental health issues.

Anxiety, depression and unmanageable stress affect one-in-four British workers while absence and lost productivity caused by mental ill health are estimated to cost businesses between £33bn and £42bn a year.

Rob added: “Those statistics pre-date Covid-19. My hunch is that the bill for mental ill health is even greater now. We owe it to ourselves and our employees to look out for each other."

More resources are available on the chamber's website.