Statistics tell only half the story of the devastation left by suicide, says Samaritans

Samaritans says official statistics on the numbers of people who die by suicide are just one part of the story of the devastation caused when a person takes their own life.  The leading suicide prevention charity wants people to understand how profound the effect can be on those left behind.

Samaritans’ annual report looking in detail at the official data available shows the suicide rate for women hitting its highest level since 2011, with nearly 1 in 4 suicide deaths being among women.  The statistics show that, among those, women aged 45-59 are most at risk. 

The most recent suicide figures, which are those recorded for 2014, show that 6122 people took their own lives in the UK, equivalent to one every 90 minutes.  Of those, 4630 were men and 1492 were women. The rate for men fell by 5.6% compared with the previous year, but for women it increased by 8.3%.

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said, ‘We are naturally concerned about this rise. Men remain three times more likely to take their own lives than women, but we need to understand more about why the figure for women has risen.  For every person that takes their own life, there are family and friends left behind whose lives will never be the same again. The statistics are important to help us understand risks and trends but we must remember every single suicide is a tragedy.”

Samaritans has released its analysis of the figures to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, which is focusing on the importance of good relationships in helping people live longer and happier lives.

Ruth Sutherland continued:  “Feeling physically or socially isolated is a risk to your mental health. Our vision is that fewer people die by suicide and we welcome the focus on looking after your relationships and those of the people around you. Be kind to yourself and, if you’re struggling, be brave and take action.  Go to the GP, contact Samaritans.  If you see someone else struggling to cope, take action, ask them. ‘Are you ok?’ Those could be the most important words you say today.”

Relationship breakdown and relationship problems are among the top five reasons people contact Samaritans, research by the University of Nottingham has found.*   Samaritans has welcomed this week’s Mental Health Awareness Week’s focus on relationships and is encouraging people to share their tips for looking after themselves and each other on social media via the Week’s hashtag #MHAW16.

Ruth Sutherland added: “We can all do more in our immediate circles of friends, families, colleagues and acquaintances.  Let’s encourage people to seek help early, before reaching a crisis point so that they can access the support they need.  If we galvanise and support each other we can make changes for a happier and healthier community.”

Samaritans has praised BBC soap Eastenders for tackling the Peggy Mitchell storyline this week.  Tonight the characters in Albert Square will themselves begin to deal with the devastation left behind when a person takes their own life.

Anyone can contact Samaritans, you don’t have to be suicidal. Whatever you’re going through, call us free any time from any phone on 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill), email, or visit to find details of your nearest branch.

Samaritans’ Suicide Statistics Report can be accessed in full here:

Illustrated highlights of the report are available here.

For further information, please contact Samaritans’ press office on 020 8394 8300 or

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Notes to editors:

  • The UK data in this report has been provided by official statistical bodies: Office for National Statistics (ONS) (for combined data, England and Wales), the National Records of Scotland (NRS) (for Scotland with data compiled by the Scottish Public Health Observatory (ScotPHO) an the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NRSA) (for Northern Ireland)


  • * Pollock, K., Armstrong, S., Coveney, C., & Moore, J. (2010). An evaluation of Samaritans telephone and email emotional support service. Nottingham: University of Nottingham.


  • It’s the public’s kind donations and more than 21,000 trained volunteers that mean Samaritans is always there for anyone struggling to cope.  Find out how you can support us: