SAMARITANS of Salisbury have responded to the government's decision to appoint a minister for suicide prevention, thought the to be the first position of its kind in the world, as the government also hosts the first ever global mental health summit.

Theresa May said the appointment of Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price to the new role will help tackle the stigma surrounding suicide.

While suicide rates are falling, 4,500 people take their own lives every year.

The appointment comes as ministers and officials from more than 50 countries assemble in London for the summit.

Denise Mitchell, Director of Samaritans of Salisbury and District, said: "We, at the Salisbury branch of Samaritans, are delighted by today’s announcement of the appointment of Jackie Doyle-Price as the first UK minister for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention and in particular by the Government’s pledge of £1.8million to Samaritans.

"Although modest in relation to our overall income needs, this contribution will help us meet about 10 per cent of our overall helpline costs for the next four years.

"Not only can anyone in distress call us free on 116123 but can get in touch via SMS, email or can receive support by our volunteers by visiting us at 42 Milford Street, Salisbury.

"As one of the oldest of 201 branches across the UK and Ireland we need funding at a local level to run our premises, recruit and train our volunteers and deliver outreach services to our local community eg in schools.

"For this we rely on kind donations from the public and undertake fundraising events.

"If you are interested in helping us locally by either donating or volunteering then please email us via or"

For those experiencing distress Samaritans are available 24/7 on Freephone 116123.