Suicides fall in Northern Ireland but rates still ‘alarmingly high’

The suicide rate in Northern Ireland has gone down by 7.6 per cent in the last year, ONS statistics released today reveal.

However, rates in the province are still “alarmingly high” compared with the rest of the UK and Ireland, said Siobhan O’Neill, Professor of Mental Health Sciences at Ulster University.

“I wouldn’t call this a fall, I would say it is a sign of the numbers of suicides stabilising, but we would want to look at averages over three or four years to get a true picture,” Professor O’Neill added.

“We still have not got our suicide prevention strategy signed off because we have not got a government in place. We need our strategy urgently so that we can push for measures to reduce suicide,” she said.

The suicide rate among men in the province in 2016 have gone down by 10.4 per cent, but the number of women taking their own lives has shown a small rise.

Suicides by women in NI rose to 76 in 2016, a rate of 8 per 100,000, a slight increase of 3.9 per cent on 2015.

In 2015, 318 people in Northern Ireland died by suicide, compared to 297 in 2016.  In 2016, 221 suicides by men were registered, compared with 245 in 2015.

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said: “A fall in the numbers of suicides in Northern Ireland is welcome, but any life lost to suicide is one too many. Our volunteers and the charity as a whole will continue to work to reduce the numbers of people dying by suicide in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland.”

Suicide figures for 2016 for the rest of the UK were released in September 2017.