Men's suicide rate at highest level since 2001

by Sarah Graham
Friday 20 February 2015
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Male suicides in the UK are at their highest rate since 2001, according to recently released figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Data for the year 2013 shows 19 deaths by suicide per every 100,000 men, and an overall total of 6,233 suicides by men and women over the age of 15 - an increase of 4% on the previous year.

78% of all suicides in 2013 were by men, and the ONS report notes that the male suicide rate has increased significantly since 2007. With the exception of under 30s, male suicide has increased across all age groups, and men aged between 45 and 49 are particularly vulnerable, with a rate of 25.1 per 100,000. Meanwhile, the rate of female suicides has remained relatively stable over the same period, with 5.1 women per 100,000 dying from suicide in 2013.

Research released with the statistics suggests the impact of the national recession may be an "influencing factor" in the increased number of men taking their own lives, noting that "areas with greater rises in unemployment had also experienced higher rises in male suicides".

Dr Carl Walker, a Brighton University psychologist, told the Independent that Government cuts were affecting the mental wellbeing of people in deprived areas: "There is a tendency to understand mental health as solely a personal or public health issue, but these are political issues," he said.

The ONS report shows that Wales had the highest rate of male suicides, with 26 men per 100,000, followed by the north-east of England (22 per 100,000), whilst London had the lowest rate (7.9 per 100,000). 

Marjorie Wallace, the chief executive of mental health charity SANE, told the BBC: "It is really shocking that men who are or could be in their prime of life should feel driven to such a state of hopelessness and despair for the future that they are taking their own lives. SANE's own research shows that many suicides could be prevented, if people were able to talk more openly about their feelings and felt able to seek therapy or other help."

Echoing SANE's research, RSCPP Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Richard Snowdon said: "The news that the suicide rate is at its highest since 2001 is very sad; beyond the statistics we're talking about human lives. It can be really difficult for men to talk about their emotions, but it's very important to go and speak to someone before your situation becomes desperate. Therapy can provide a way for you to open up and work through what you are feeling, rather than enacting difficult emotions by taking your own life. How you think and feel today could be different in the future if you give yourself the chance."


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Updated 20 February 2015