New research shows 1 in 5 adults have contemplated suicide

Samaritans’ response to the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014

The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey released today by the NHS estimates the prevalence of mental illness in adults in England. it features chapters on suicide and self-harm, common mental disorders, autism, PTSD, ADHD, psychosis and other psychiatric issues. The results are based on survey data from 2014.  The last time the survey was carried out was 2007.

Samaritans Research Manager, Elizabeth Scowcroft said:

“The rise in people feeling suicidal, attempting to take their own life and self-harming is alarming. The fact that half of adults who attempted suicide did not reach out for help afterwards is particularly concerning. This emphasises the need to work towards a culture where realising you are struggling and understanding that you can tell people you are in distress is seen as a strength not a weakness. We need a society where if you ask for help you know you will get the right support and treatment as needed, and that recovery is possible.

We hope the work that we do in reducing stigma and encouraging people to open up and talk about their feelings is contributing to more openness and freedom for people to say they are experiencing difficult thoughts.

The increase in self-harm is worrying because it’s the biggest indicator that someone may go on to take their own life.  It is critical that we learn more about the links between self-harm and suicide and that anyone who self-harms can receive the support they need.

The survey highlights the two groups in need of particular attention from policy makers are young women, in relation to self-harm, and men in mid-life, who are at increased risk of suicide.  Samaritans’ welcomes increased attention on both of these groups and hopes it will translate into local and national action. 

Today’s figures reinforce Samaritans’ stance that suicide is everybody’s business, from politicians to parents, and we need a society-wide approach to save lives.  Next month (6 October) Samaritans is launching a campaign, Local Action Saves Lives, to supercharge a community-wide approach to suicide prevention and ensure that every local area has an effective suicide prevention plan. We will be calling on politicians at all levels and the public to do everything in their power to act now to save lives.”

For further information and interviews, please contact Samaritans’ Press Office on 020 8394 8300 or .