Suicide: facts and figures

Suicide in the UK and ROI

The Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report 2013 (pdf) gives details of the national suicide rates for the United Kingdom (UK) and Republic of Ireland (ROI) for 2011.

The collation of suicide statistics for the UK, England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and ROI is not routinely provided by any other organisation.

Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report Highlights

This year’s report shows:

  • In the UK, the highest suicide rate per 100,000 for males, females and for all persons was in Scotland.
  • Male suicide rates are on average 3-5 times higher than female rates and men aged 30-44 are the group with the highest rate.
  • In the ROI men are also the group with the highest suicide rate, it is approximately 5 times that of females, and highest for men aged 45-49.

Compared to previous years:

  • The suicide rate for males in the UK is its highest since 2002.
  • The female rate has also significantly increased since 2007.
  • Overall, between 2010 and 2011 there was a significant increase in the UK suicide rate.

The report gives details of 10 year trends for each of the UK nations and the ROI.  

There is also additional information about how to understand and interpret suicide statistics, because it’s not always as straight forward as looking at the actual numbers.

The report acknowledges some of the known challenges with suicide statistics, specifically the problem of under-reporting; it is widely acknowledged by professionals in the field of suicide research that official statistics are an underestimate of the ‘true’ number of deaths in any year. We try to understand why this is an on-going problem over time and what impact that has on understanding the phenomenon of suicide.

Download the Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report 2013 (pdf)

Suicidal behaviour is a complex phenomenon that usually occurs along a continuum, progressing from suicidal thoughts, to planning, to attempting suicide, and finally dying by suicide.

Source: International Association for Suicide Prevention

How the Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report is created

To produce the report, we collate the figures from all of the national statistical agencies, who we work closely with to help us understand and compare the rates between the nations.

The report also gives details about how the recording, definitions and calculations of rates differ within the UK nations and ROI. It does not provide explanations for the trends in suicide rates within or between nations.


It also provides important information about how to appropriately use suicide statistics and what some of the challenges with them are.


Facts about suicide around the world

  • 1 million people across the globe die by suicide each year. That’s one suicide every 40 seconds.
  • More people die by suicide each year than by murder and war combined.
  • It’s estimated that approximately 5% of people attempt suicide at least once in their life.
  • Between 10% and 14% of the general population have suicidal thinking throughout their lifetime.
  • Suicide is the second biggest cause of death worldwide among 15-19 year olds.
  • 100,000 adolescents die by suicide every year.
  • Suicide is estimated to be under-reported for reasons of stigma, religion and social attitudes. Many suicides are hidden among other causes of death, such as road traffic accidents and drowning.

(Source: International Association for Suicide Prevention)

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