Rise in suicides shows the need to work together to tackle inequalities

Suicides  in the UK rose by four per cent in 2013, figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today show.

In 2013, 6233 suicides were registered in the UK; a rate of 11.9  per 100,000 (19 per 100,000 for men and 5.1 per 100,000 for women). 

The male suicide rate is the highest since 2001, and  suicides among middle aged men aged 45-59 are at 25.1 per 100,000 which is the highest rate for this group since 1981.

Joe Ferns, Samaritans Executive Director of Policy, Research & Development said: “The news today, that suicide rates increased in 2013 is sadly not surprising to us given the context of a challenging economic environment and the  social impact that brings. We need to see a greater focus at local and regional levels on the co-ordination and prioritisation of suicide prevention activity especially in areas with high socio-economic deprivation.”

“The excessive risk of suicide in men at mid-life continues to be a concern.  The rate for this group has now reached its highest level  for more than 30 years (25.1 per 100,000 suicides of men aged 45-59). These figures cannot be ignored.

“Samaritans has been concerned about  the risk to this group for some time and our research report on Men and Suicide concludes  that men from lower socio-economic backgrounds, living in deprived areas are approximately 10 times more likely to die by suicide than those in affluent areas.

“While it’s important to look at the overall rate for the UK and individual countries to see changing trends on a national level, it’s also important for us to understand the variation that occurs within different geographic areas of the UK.  As the ONS figures show, the suicide rate can vary dramatically across regions. For example, in the North East the rate was 13.8 per 100,000 compared to London,  where the rate was 7.9. Sadly, we know that suicide is an inequality affecting people in the most deprived areas from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

“The All Party Parliamentary Group on Suicide Prevention and Self Harm recently reported on how varied local suicide prevention activity can be. It found that around a third of local authorities do not collect information about suicide, do not have a suicide prevention action plan, or a multi-agency suicide prevention group. This is an issue which needs to be urgently addressed in the context of rising rates.”

Professor Louis Appleby, chair of the National Suicide Prevention Advisory Group  in England said:

 “Men are more at risk of suicide because they are more likely to drink heavily, use self-harm methods that are more often fatal and are reluctant to seek help. Fifteen years ago the rates among men under 35 were brought down sharply by tackling these problems and we need to use this success to address the problems of the new highest risk group, middle aged men.

“We need to make it easier for men to find help without shame or stigma.”

Samaritans answered  5.23m calls for help in 2013, our highest number ever. Our volunteers are there round the clock every day of the year, to support people when they are struggling. We have 201 branches and 21,200 volunteers in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. To contact Samaritans,  call 116 123 , email jo@samaritans.org or find the details for your local branch at www.samaritans.org.

For interview requests please contact Sue Royal, Senior Press Officer at Samaritans on 0208 394 8348.

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Notes to editors:

  • The suicide rates for the UK, England and Wales are based on the deaths from self-harm and undetermined intent, combined, for individuals over 15 years of age. Figures are for deaths of this kind which are registered in a calendar year, rather than occurring in that year.
  • NB: Methods of suicide have been highlighted by the ONS statisticians. Samaritans’ media guidelines make it clear that these should be publicised as little as possible, given the risks of imitational suicide.
  • For more information please contact the press office on 020 83948300 (out of hours) 079 4380 9162) or email press@samaritans.org

  • Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. We provide a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them. Please call 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of the nearest branch.