FIREFIGHTERS in Berkshire were called to deal with 20 suicide attempts last year, figures show.

Mental health charity Mind said the effects of dealing with such traumatic situations could be “severe and long-lasting” for crews.

The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service responded to 20 suicides or attempted suicides in the 12 months to September last year, Home Office statistics reveal.

READ THIS: CORONAVIRUS: LVS Ascot school tells pupils to self-isolate after returning back from Italy ski trip

However, this was actually seven fewer than the year before

The trend is in contrast to the rest of England where fire and rescue services responded to a record 1,969 suicides – the sixth successive yearly increase nationwide.

These are part of a growing number of "collaborating incidents" that fire stations have to respond to alongside other emergency services, since the Policing and Crime Act became law in 2017.

But in the 12-month period to September 2016, Berkshire firefighters actually responded to 21 suicide callouts - one of just seven areas in England to have a higher total then than in 2019.

Vicki Nash, head of policy and campaigns at Mind, said they want to see all emergency services create a culture where staff can talk openly about stress and mental health without “stigma and discrimination”.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus fears prompt Wokingham's The Holt School to tell pupils to self-isolate

She added: “Although those working within fire and rescue services are trained to attend these kinds of events, the effects of witnessing trauma can, in some cases, be severe and long-lasting. So it’s crucial staff are able to access support for their mental health from their employer.”

The most recent figures show crews dealt with a total of 672 “collaborating incidents” in Berkshire in the year to September 2019 – almost double the equivalent period in 2016.

Almost all fire services across England have seen an increase in situations where they must work alongside the police and ambulance services, which coincided with the imposed statutory duty on all ‘blue light’ services to work together.

Nationwide, fire crews recorded 43,796 of those incidents last year – a 47 per cent rise since the Policing and Crime Act.

READ MORE: Wokingham traffic delays after motorbike crash on London Road

A spokeswoman for the National Fire Chiefs Council said the duty to collaborate means emergency services can decide the best way to work together for the benefit of their own communities.

She said: "These statistics show the broad range of incidents firefighters attend on a daily basis and the vital work they undertake. It is vital that the right support mechanisms are readily available and accessible as required.”

A Home Office spokesman said they are grateful for the continued tireless efforts of firefighters across the country.