Suicide rates fall in England and Wales, but rise in Scotland

Suicide figures have fallen over the last year, but more than 5,600 people still lost their life in 2016.

Suicide rates fell in England and Wales over the past year – but more than 5,600 people still lost their lives in 2016.

Mental Health Foundation Scotland are launching a new campaign in response to new figures
released by ONS for suicide statistics. Picture: iStock

Figures from the Office for National Statistics were released last week (7 September), ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday 10 September.

The annual report showed there were 3.4% fewer suicides than in 2015, falling from 5,870 deaths to 5,668 this year.

This includes a ‘significant’ decline in England, slight fall in Wales and small rise in Scotland, the ONS said.

The Mental Health Foundation Scotland has launched a new ‘It’s time to talk about it’ campaign in response to the increase in suicide rates in the nation.

Freedom of information data obtained by the charity revealed ‘a significant reduction’ in suicide prevention investment by some Scottish local authorities.

Commitment needed

Mental Health Foundation Scotland public affairs manager Toni Giugliano said: ‘It’s clear that men, as well as people living in poverty, are at much greater risk of suicide. That’s why we are calling on the Scottish government, ahead of it news suicide prevention strategy, to commit to tackling the inequalities that too often are the root causes of suicide.’

In 2016 the suicide rate for men was two and half times more than that for women, while those living in the most deprived areas were over three times more likely to die by suicide than those living in the least deprived, according to the foundation.

London had the lowest rate of suicide in England, with a rate of 7.8 per 100,000 people, the ONS data showed.


Responding, the Local Government Association has called for a ‘root and branch overhaul of mental health services’ to focus on prevention and early intervention, particularly for children and young people.

Research from the University of Nottingham has stressed the importance of self-harm intervention in preventing suicide.

The research, led by Ellen Townsend, found young people in care felt better immediately after their first episode of self-harm, but this feeling wore off, to eventually be replaced with self-hatred and not being afraid of death.

Professor Townsend said: ‘Looked-after young people are at particularly high risk of self-harmful behaviour, yet there is sparse research targeting this group.’

Considering development

The most common age for suicide was 40-44 of 15.1 per 100,000 – and with a rate of 23.7 per 100,000 men within this age range dying this way, the ONS data shows.

The highest rate of suicide for women was 50 to 54 at 8.1 to 100,000.

The British Psychological Society has asked that the Royal College of General Practitioners consider the development of mandatory GP training on identifying the signs and symptoms of suicide behaviour, and appropriate referrals support.

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