Impact News

Responding to Violence, Suicide, Psychosis and Trauma

Rise in number dying by suicide

The number of people dying by suicide every year in the UK has gone up slightly after a decade in which the rate has fallen, according to the latest figures released today.

In 2008, 5,706 people over the age of 15 took their own lives.

This compares with 5,377 in 2007.

This is the first rise in the annual rate since there was a sharp increase between 1997 and 1998.

The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), continue to show a marked difference in the number of men and women who die by suicide.

In 2008 there were 17.7 suicides per 100,000 men with 5.4 per 100,000 women.

The group with the highest rates continue to be men aged between 15 and 44. Since 2004 the highest suicide rates among women have been in the 45-74 age group.

The statistics show some variations within England, with the North having the highest rates of male suicide.

But in Wales 2008 saw the lowest rate since 1991 with 266 deaths, although the ONS pointed out the Welsh figures have remained broadly steady in the period from 1991-2008.

Stephen Platt, Samaritans’ trustee and professor of health policy research at the University of Edinburgh, said: “In view of the promising downward trend in suicide in previous years, this could be worrying but it may turn out to be a normal fluctuation.

“However, given the strong research evidence of a link between economic recession and suicide, it is also possible that this is the start of an upward trend in suicide which could continue until there is an improvement in economic conditions.

“Any suicide is one too many and it is vital that we continue to work towards ensuring that fewer people die in this way.

“Samaritans persist in reaching out to those who are at risk of suicide by providing our 24/7 emotional support line and by the work of our 200 branches to support distressed and vulnerable people in their local communities.

“We also work with Government in Westminster and the devolved nations on the national suicide prevention strategies, as well as forming local and national partnerships, such as our new project with Network Rail that aims to reduce suicides on the railways by 20% over the next five years.”

Source: Press Association.

28/01/2010

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Rising unemployment will lead to a rise in suicide rates

Rising unemployment will lead to a rise in suicide rates across Europe unless preventative action is taken, a study says

The stress triggered by job losses could see suicides rise across Europe if governments fail to take preventative action, a new study claims.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London and the University of Oxford examined economic downturns over the past 30 years and concluded that when unemployment rose by 3%, there was a corresponding increase of 4.5% in the number of suicides among people under 65.

In the study published today in medical journal the Lancet, the authors conclude that people who lose their jobs during a recession are at greater risk of suicide – and that for the least well-educated, the risks are even higher.

However, governments can help by providing social security safety nets, and programmes to help people cope with redundancy and get back to work.

Researcher David Stuckler said that while the study found differences between how countries classified and measured suicide, it was possible to look at how governments could reduce the likelihood of suicide during an economic crisis.

“Governments might be able to protect their populations specifically by budgeting for measures that keep people employed. This is a complex issue but we can see what has happened and hopefully use this to work out what to do about it.”

Joe Ferns, deputy director of the Samaritans, welcomed the report. “People who are unemployed are two to three times more likely to die by suicide than people who have jobs, because unemployment can lead to anxiety, depression, lowered self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness – all of which increase the likelihood that someone will think that life is not worth living,” he said.

Dr David Gunnell, a professor of epidemiology at the university of Bristol, cautioned against over-simplifying the link with unemployment. “Suicides are the tip of a much larger iceberg of emotional distress caused by job loss and economic hardship. It is important to appreciate that the causes of suicide are complex and most people who lose their jobs do not end their lives.”

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