The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has today published the figures on the number of suicides in the UK in 2014. There were 6,122 suicides in 2014, a slight decrease on 2013. There has, however, been a notable increase in female suicide rates, particularly in the 45 to 59 age bracket.
The main findings include the following (see ONS website for full details):
- There were 6,122 suicides of people aged 10 and over registered in the UK in 2014, 120 fewer than in 2013 (a 2% decrease).
- The male suicide rate in the UK decreased in 2014 from 17.8 to 16.8 deaths per 100,000 population; while the female suicide rate increased from 4.8 to 5.2 deaths per 100,000 population.
- The highest suicide rate in the UK in 2014 was among men aged 45 to 59, at 23.9 deaths per 100,000, slightly lower than the record high seen in 2013. This age group also had the highest rate among women, at 7.3 deaths per 100,000 population.
Vicki Nash, Head of Policy & Campaigns for Mind, said:
“We are concerned to see that the suicide rate in England continues to rise, which appears to be because more women are taking their lives. At the same time, the number of men taking their lives hasn’t dropped, despite a focus in recent years on tackling male suicide. More research is needed to understand both these trends and how to reverse them.
“It’s encouraging to see that the suicide rate has fallen significantly in Wales, which now has a lower suicide rate than anywhere in England except London. It’s too early to tell if this is the start of a downward trend and it’s important to understand why the numbers have fallen so that continued progress can be made.
“Every suicide is a tragedy. Not all suicides are mental health-related but the majority are and we know that often people struggle in silence and find it difficult to know how to ask for help. That’s why anti-stigma campaigns like Time to Change, which we run with Rethink Mental Illness, are so important – we need to continue to raise awareness and help people speak out about what they are experiencing and ask for help.
“A third of local authorities in England don’t have a suicide prevention plan and a similar number don’t collect local suicide data, but we know that where suicide prevention plans exist they can be really effective in reducing the number of deaths. Every local area must have a comprehensive plan that brings together all the relevant local services and agencies involved in supporting people at risk of suicide.
“A third of suicides are among people known to NHS mental health services and it is vital that when people do seek help, they get the support they need. No one in touch with services, asking for help, should reach the point of taking their own life. NHS mental health services are under enormous pressure at the moment as funding cuts over recent years have come at a time of rising demand. As a result, many people aren’t getting the right support at the right time, so they become more unwell and may reach crisis point. We know that suicides among people in touch with crisis teams have increased, as have suicides among people sent out of the local area for care, often because of bed shortages. It is unacceptable that the very service there to help people in crisis is unable to support people in the right way and help them to recover.
“This is why suicide prevention measures need to be accompanied by improvements to NHS mental health services. We have heard positive announcements in recent weeks about increased funding for mental health services but without significant investment services won’t be able to recover and start giving people the help they need, when they need it.”
Find out more about dealing with suicidal feelings here, or about supporting someone who feels suicidal here.