Press release: Samaritans’ comment on the 2009 UK suicide figures published today by the Office for National Statistics

Stephen Platt, Samaritans’ Trustee and Professor of Health Policy Research at the University of Edinburgh, said:   “The 2009 UK suicide figures show that the suicide rate has remained unchanged compared with 2008. In the current economic climate, suicide rates could have been expected to rise and therefore this news is encouraging.

“That said, suicide rates may still increase over the coming years as the long-term effects of the recession, rising unemployment and budget cuts take their toll on the mental health of the nation. Every suicide is a tragedy and it is vital that, as a nation, we do not become complacent in our work to reduce the number of unnecessary deaths.

“We call on all agencies to prioritise suicide prevention strategies, with a focus on school leavers struggling to find jobs and low-skilled older workers who have been prematurely excluded from the labour market. We also call on employers, healthcare professionals and members of the general public to look out for the signs of suicide in their staff, patients, family members or friends, and to take action if they are worried about someone.

“In addition to our 24/7 helpline, Samaritans’ 18,500 volunteers continue to reach out to vulnerable people in schools, prisons, places of work and on the railways. We are also looking to the future by developing our understanding of the online environment, and building partnerships with search engines such as Google and social networking sites such as Facebook, to ensure that people who are distressed online are directed to sources of emotional support.”

For interviews or more information about Samaritans please contact Sal Lalji, Press & PR Manager at Samaritans, on 020 8394 8342 / 07943 809 162 or email

Notes to Editor

Employers, healthcare professionals and members of the general public should be aware of the signs to watch out for if they are worried that someone they know is having difficulty coping:

  1. Being withdrawn or unsociable
  2. Being low-spirited or depressed
  3. Drinking alcohol excessively or becoming dependent on drugs
  4. Finding it difficult to relate to others
  5. Taking less care of themselves
  6. Acting out of character
  7. Being tearful or constantly fighting back tears
  8. Being excessively irritable
  9. Finding it hard to concentrate
  10. Feeling less energetic or particularly tired
  11. Eating much less or much more than usual
  12. Putting themselves down (self-mockingly as well as seriously), e.g. “Nobody loves me” or “I’m a waste of space”.

If you are worried that someone is in imminent danger from themselves or others, please call the police. If you are worried about someone who is distressed but not in imminent danger, you can make a third-party referral to Samaritans – by giving us their name and email address or phone number. You can also talk to the person you are worried about directly – when someone feels suicidal they often do not want to worry or frighten other and so do not talk about the way they feel. By asking directly about suicide you give them permission to tell you how they feel.

Samaritans’ helpline can be contacted by phone on 116 123, email on or face-to-face at one our local branches, see for more information.