Male suicide rate hits 10-year high

The Samaritans said the increase in people killing themselves was 'sadly not surprising'. Picture: Pamela Grigg
The Samaritans said the increase in people killing themselves was 'sadly not surprising'. Picture: Pamela Grigg
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THE suicide rate among British men is at the highest level for more than a decade, according to a report.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 6,233 suicides were recorded in 2013 among people aged 15 and over, up by 252 or 4 per cent on the previous year. Some 4,858 male suicides were recorded in 2013 at a rate of 19 deaths per 100,000 men, which is the highest level since 2001.

The Samaritans said the increase in people killing themselves was “sadly not surprising” in the context of a “challenging economic environment”.

However, the suicide rate in Scotland has fallen by almost a fifth in the past decade with 795 probable suicides reported in 2013, 35 fewer than the previous year and a 19 per cent drop since 2002. The falling numbers of suicides in Scotland has been credited to the Scottish Government’s Choose Life suicide prevention strategy which ran from 2002 to 2013.

It brought together individuals and organisations from across Scotland to develop new methods of support for vulnerable individuals. Yet despite the drop Scotland still has a higher suicide rate than England – but a lower rate than Wales. The age standardised suicide rate in Scotland is 14 per 100,000 while the rate in England is 10.7 deaths per 100,000 and 15.9 per 100,000 in Wales.

According to the ONS report research showed unemployment, lack of close social and family relationships and divorce were among the factors which resulted in suicidal behaviour.

Men were more at risk because they are reluctant to seek help, use self-harm methods that are often fatal and are more likely to drink heavily, according to the National Suicide Prevention Advisory Group in England.

The ONS revealed the national suicide rate was 11.9 deaths per 100,000 people in 2013, a figure last recorded in 2004, while the male level was more than three times higher than the female rate of 5.1 deaths per 100,000. Some 1,375 female suicides were recorded in 2013, 22 per cent of the total number of UK suicides, compared with 78 per cent who were male. The highest UK suicide rate was among men aged 45 to 59, with 25.1 deaths per 100,000 – the highest for that age group since 1981.

A recent report by the Samaritans found men from lower ­socio-economic backgrounds and living in deprived areas were approximately ten times more likely to die by suicide than those in affluent areas.

Joe Fearns, executive director of policy, research and development said: “Sadly, we know that suicide is an inequality affecting people in the most deprived areas from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Suicide remains the leading cause of death in England and Wales for men aged 20 to 49 and women aged 20 to 34, the ONS said.

Experts have called for more effective treatment for men at risk of suicide who are often reluctant to seek help.

Professor Shirley Reynolds, director of the University of Reading’s Charlie Waller Institute for Evidence-Based Psychological Treatment, said: “Effective treatment for depression exists but in general men are a minority of those seeking treatment.”