The latest figures gathered by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and published by the Department of Health show that in the UK there were 6,233 suicides in 2013, continuing the slight upward trend that we have seen since the start of the recession. Middle aged men continue to be a concern and the levels of suicide in this age group is the highest since 1981.
Vicki Nash, Head of Policy & Campaigns at the mental health charity Mind, said:
“Every suicide should be regarded as a tragedy. Looking beyond the statistics, the hard fact is that we continue to lose around six thousand people every year to suicide, a figure which has remained consistently high in recent years. The slight rise in suicides over the last few years reflects a society still recovering from recession. This is also in keeping with what we have seen in terms of calls to our infoline about suicide and financial worries, which have increased since the start of the recession.
“The number of men who take their own lives is of particular concern and yet again the figures indicate that many middle aged men in particular are taking their own lives. Research from Mind suggests that almost a third of men would be embarrassed about seeking help for a mental health problem and less than a quarter of men would visit their GP if they felt down for more than two weeks, in comparison to a third of women. Whilst there is lots of good work within suicide prevention, we urgently need to see more initiatives aimed at this demographic, to increase resilience and build better social networks. Not least because men account for three quarters of all suicides.
“We urge family and friends to look out for signs and encourage people to go to see health professionals as soon as possible, before things spiral into crisis. Clinicians should also be taking into account the concerns raised by family and friends if they fear someone is at risk of taking their own lives, whilst also respecting confidentiality.
“Overall, we are getting better at talking about mental health and campaigns like Time to Change, run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, are helping to break down the stigma around talking about it. But there is still a long way to go and if the Government is serious about reducing the suicide rate they have got to start investing properly in mental health services and giving mental health the priority it deserves.”
You can see the full ONS statistics here. You can also find out about supporting someone who feels suicidal here.