Mind welcomes fall in suicide rates, but urges Government to prioritise prevention

Tuesday, 04 September 2018 Mind

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released data on suicide rates in the UK for 2017.

The findings show a reduction in the rate of suicides, with that of male suicides at its lowest since 1981. One suicide is still one too many, and Mind is urging the government to prioritise suicide prevention strategies.

The ONS data revealed:

  • There were 5,821 suicides registered in the UK in 2017, or 10.1 deaths per 100,000 population (age-standardised).
  • The rate of male suicides in the UK was 15.5 deaths per 100,000, the lowest since 1981. The rate of female suicides was 4.9 per 100,000, consistent with rates from over the past 10 years.
  • Male suicides made up three in four of those recorded in 2017 (4,382), which has remained unchanged since the mid-1990s.
  • The highest suicide rate by age bracket was 24.8 per 100,000 among males aged 45 to 49 years. The highest rate for females was 6.8 deaths per 100,000 for 50 to 54 year olds.

Responding to the data, Vicki Nash, Mind’s Head of Policy and Campaigns, said:

“It’s encouraging to see that in England, male suicide is at its lowest rate since 1981, and we hope this will continue to fall in future. However, we are concerned that the female suicide rate has remained static and we need to understand the reasons behind these data. In Wales, the picture is more complex due to the low numbers. Wherever you are in the UK, every suicide is a tragedy, and the only acceptable number of suicides in a year is zero.

“There is no room for complacency when it comes to promoting good mental health and preventing suicides. We know that a significant proportion of people who take their own lives have asked for support for their mental health within the last 12 months. Nobody in touch with mental health services should reach the point of suicide. Awareness raising campaigns such as Time to Change and Time to Change Wales– run jointly by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness in England and Mind Cymru and Hafal in Wales–are helping tackle the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding mental health and encouraging people to open up if they’re struggling. But with more and more people coming forward, it’s vital that mental health services are able to cope with the demand.

“Robust mental health services are also key to providing the support needed for people contemplating suicide, especially those already known to the NHS. As the NHS in England develops its 10 year plan, we want to see suicide prevention as a key ambition, particularly when it comes to high-risk groups. In Wales, Talk to Me 2, the suicide and self-harm prevention strategy, sets out a number of clear actions that need to be undertaken to support people at risk of suicide or self-harm and this needs to be fully delivered. While we are heartened by the focus on improving mental health services, we are still a long way from having a system that is truly fit for purpose.”

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