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Grenfell Tower fire: Charity reveals 'suicide attempt' fears amid concerns over support for survivors and witnesses

Figures show 200 people have been referred for PTSD treatment, while the council says it is spending £2.5m to help those affected

At least 20 people who survived or witnessed the Grenfell Tower disaster have attempted suicide, a charity head has said.

Yvette Greenway, who runs the Silence of Suicide group which has been offering trauma support in the Notting Hill area, based the estimate on conversations with residents and told the BBC Victoria Derbyshire Show that people are struggling to deal with issues ranging from housing and benefits to grief, trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression.

Nurse Judy Bolton, a volunteer coordinator at Justice4Grenfell , said people living with what they witnessed that night are struggling without bereavement and trauma counselling.

They were speaking before a 5 News report on Tuesday (September 5) said 200 people victims have been referred to the NHS for PTSD treatment, with Kensington and Chelsea Council reporting it has invested £2.5 million to ensure there is a network of support with council outreach teams visiting people in the community and in hotels.

Talking on the BBC earlier, Ms Bolton said those who lived close to Grenfell were badly affected by the sight of the burning.

“You don’t get that out of your mind," she said.

“People saw others jump from windows, children being dropped from windows and not every child that was dropped was caught and so you live with that every day.

“We see it, we see the building, we see Grenfell, it’s on our horizon . We live with it.”

She said not enough mental health support has been offered, and nearly three months since the disaster volunteers are out on the streets in the early hours of the morning meeting people who are too traumatised to sleep.

Discussing the 20 suicide attempts, Ms Greenway said on the same show: “It’s very difficult to verify this information but we put it out there because even if its just one suicide then it’s one suicide too many and it means somewhere along the lines something is failing.”

Figures from the council show that screening for PTSD has been provided for 330 people so far, and 66% (220 people) of people has been referred for treatment as a result.

Meanwhile, Central and Northwest London NHS Foundation Trust NHS Trust, which applied for more specialists to help deal with the increased workload caused by the Grenfell fire told 5 News their outreach teams are going to homes and hotels.

Along with GPs they have referred 439 people for specialist mental health treatment.

Council deputy leader Kim Taylor-Smith said: “The Grenfell Tower fire is a humanitarian crisis on a unique scale and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has committed to supporting those affected by this tragedy.

“There is a network of support available, including proactive work within the community and schools, a 24-hour NHS helpline and emotional support services provided by local community groups along with the Samaritans.

“We would urge anyone who is experiencing trauma around the incident to contact the 24-hour NHS support line on 0800 0234 650.

“The helpline will talk to distressed people, or concerned family, friends or carers, at any time and provide clinical advice.”

However, ex-Chalcots estate resident, Steven Pretty, 40, told 5 News nobody has approached him to offer support.

He moved out of his flat which was next to the Grenfell Tower, saying: “Forty yards from my living room window was a tower block that was all on fire... windows were just falling out, the crashing noises, the screams, the shouts.

“I couldn’t do anything that night and that’s painful and I’ve been carrying that for the last eight, nine weeks.

Grenfell tower block after the devastating fire(Image: Daily Mirror)

“There’s been times I wanted to kill myself because I felt that helpless, I couldn’t do anything. It’s been tough.”

He is now reaching out for support, and hopes that speaking out will encourage others to come forward.

Click here to watch Ms Bolton and Ms Greenway on The Victoria Derbyshire Show.

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