Suicide in the United Kingdom

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Suicide is a significant national social issue in the United Kingdom. In 2017 there were approximately 5,821 registered deaths by suicide in the United Kingdom, equating to an average of 16 suicides per day in the country.[1] Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the country.[2]

Governmental and other organisations have created different initiatives to attempt to prevent suicides in the country, including the establishment of a new post, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention) in October 2018. Jackie Doyle-Price was appointed on World Mental Health Day.[3]

Dynamics[edit]

Researchers and sociologists have identified several causes for the high rate of suicide in the United Kingdom; these include recent recessions, unemployment, austerity measures and loneliness. Research undertaken by Samaritans suggested that mental-health issues of middle-aged men and loss of masculine pride and identity are also major factors behind the high rate of suicide.[4]

Common methods[edit]

The most common method used in the United Kingdom is hanging. Other suicides reported often include self-poisoning.[5] Suicide using firearms accounts for only a very small fraction, possibly due to tight gun control meaning very few households in the UK possess them (4 per cent).[6] Hanging is the most common method used by women, closely followed by self poisoning.[1]

Inhalation of domestic gas was the most common method of suicide during the mid-twentieth century. It was completely eliminated by the 1990s as a result of the replacement of coal gas containing toxic carbon monoxide by the non-poisonous natural gas.[7][8][9] Later, suicide by inhalation of carbon monoxide from car exhausts became common, but has declined since the introduction of catalytic converters.[10]

Statistics[edit]

A map showing the prevalence of suicide in England and Wales, 1872–1876.

Age-standardised rates generally fell between 1981 and 2007, with rates in subsequent years increasing to reach a peak of 11.1 deaths per 100,000 in 2013, though this was still substantially less than the rates seen in the 1980s and 1990s.[1] The highest rate of suicide was recorded as 21.4 deaths per 100,000 population in 1988. Male suicides have consistently accounted for approximately three-quarters of all suicides in the UK since the mid-1990s.[1]

5,821 people aged 10 and over committed suicide in 2017, a decrease from 5,965 deaths in 2016.[1] In January 2013, MPs expressed concern at a rise in the number of suicides over the preceding years.[11]

The suicide rate of 10.1 deaths per 100,000 population recorded by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in 2017 is the lowest since the organisation began recording data on suicide in the United Kingdom in 1981. In 1981 the ONS recorded the UK suicide rate as 14.7 deaths per 100,000.[1]

Suicide rate
By gender; United Kingdom (1981–2017), rate per 100,000 people
Year All Male Female
1981 14.7 19.5 10.6
1982 14.4 19.3 10.2
1983 14 19.1 9.6
1984 14 19.2 9.5
1985 14.7 20.1 9.8
1986 14.2 20.4 8.9
1987 13.4 19.6 8.2
1988 14.4 21.4 8.3
1989 12.7 19 7.2
1990 13.2 20.2 6.9
1991 12.8 19.7 6.6
1992 12.9 19.9 6.6
1993 12.5 19.2 6.4
1994 12.1 18.8 6.1
1995 12.1 18.9 6
1996 11.6 18.1 5.8
1997 11.4 17.6 5.8
1998 12.4 19.3 6
1999 12.2 19.3 5.8
2000 11.9 18.4 5.9
2001 11.5 17.9 5.5
2002 11.2 17.1 5.6
2003 10.9 16.9 5.5
2004 11.1 16.9 5.8
2005 10.7 16.4 5.5
2006 10.4 16.2 5
2007 10 15.6 4.7
2008 10.5 16.3 5
2009 10.3 16.1 4.9
2010 10.2 15.8 4.9
2011 10.9 16.8 5.3
2012 10.7 16.8 4.9
2013 11.1 17.8 4.8
2014 10.8 16.8 5.2
2015 10.9 16.6 5.4
2016 10.4 16 5
2017 10.1 15.5 4.9
Source: Office for National Statistics, National Records of Scotland, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency[1]
Age standardised suicide rate
By gender and age group, United Kingdom (1981–2017), rate per 100,000 people
Males aged Females aged
Year 10–29 30–44 45–59 60–74 75+ 10–29 30–44 45–59 60–74 75+
1981 9.8 19.5 23.1 22.0 28.6 3 8.5 15 16.2 13.6
1982 9.1 19.0 23.6 22.0 28.1 3.2 8.4 13.9 15.4 14.2
1983 9.0 19.7 22.5 22.5 28.6 2.9 8 12.8 14.8 13.4
1984 9.5 20.4 23.0 21.3 27.9 2.7 7.7 13.1 14.4 13.5
1985 10.8 21.6 23.2 22.6 29.1 2.7 7.5 13.7 15.9 13.5
1986 11.5 20.9 22.5 23.5 31.3 3.2 7 11.3 13.8 13.3
1987 12.3 21.0 21.1 21.5 27.7 3.6 7 10.5 11.8 10.8
1988 14.5 24.0 21.2 21.8 33.8 3.5 7.7 10.2 11.2 12.5
1989 13.8 21.4 21.1 16.9 26.8 3.7 6.4 9 9.3 10.6
1990 15.8 23.0 21.9 18.0 25.4 3.3 6.8 8.2 9.5 9.5
1991 15.1 25.0 21.5 15.6 24.0 3.4 6.4 8.4 8.1 9
1992 15.5 24.3 21.6 17.2 22.7 3.8 6.2 8.1 8.4 8.3
1993 15.9 23.3 21.4 15.2 21.2 3.6 6.6 7.5 7 9.5
1994 15.8 23.0 18.6 15.4 24.2 3.4 6.4 6.7 7.1 9.3
1995 15.3 24.8 19.5 14.2 21.2 3.3 6.5 7 6.3 8.3
1996 14.2 23.7 18.6 14.2 21.3 3.7 6.4 6.8 5.8 7.5
1997 15.1 22.1 18.6 13.0 20.0 3.5 6.5 7.2 6.3 6
1998 16.8 26.0 20.1 13.6 17.8 3.9 6.8 6.7 6.5 6.9
1999 14.9 25.7 19.9 15.1 20.6 3.6 6.7 6.4 6 7
2000 14.9 24.4 19.3 13.6 18.7 3.9 6.4 7.5 5.6 6.5
2001 13.0 23.4 20.4 13.5 18.1 3 6.7 6.7 5.7 6.2
2002 12.4 24.2 19.1 13.0 14.2 3.7 6.1 6.6 5.4 6.8
2003 11.3 23.8 18.2 13.1 16.8 3 6.5 7.1 4.9 6.4
2004 10.6 23.7 19.1 12.7 18.2 3.1 6.6 7.5 5.9 7
2005 9.8 23.0 18.9 13.1 16.3 3.1 6.2 7.7 4.9 5.5
2006 9.6 22.7 19.6 13.1 14.9 2.8 5.2 7.5 5 4.7
2007 9.8 22.3 18.3 12.0 15.4 2.2 5.4 6.8 5.1 4.4
2008 10.7 23.4 19.3 12.8 14.3 2.8 6.1 7.1 4.4 4.5
2009 10.5 22.4 20.6 11.6 13.9 3 5.9 6.5 4.6 4.8
2010 9.4 21.3 20.7 12.4 15.0 3 5.8 6.8 4.7 4.3
2011 10.4 23.5 22.1 12.7 13.8 3.3 6.4 7.3 4.6 4.8
2012 10.6 23.0 23.0 12.3 13.2 2.7 5.7 7.4 4.2 4.4
2013 9.8 23.4 25.1 14.5 15.4 2.3 6.3 7 3.9 4.7
2014 9.9 21.3 23.9 13.6 14.4 3.2 6.1 7.3 4.6 4.6
2015 10.6 21.0 22.3 13.8 14.8 3.2 6 7.6 5.4 4.8
2016 10.5 20.7 21.8 12.3 13.4 3.4 5.5 7.3 4.6 3.5
2017 9.9 19.7 21.8 12.0 12.1 3.2 5.8 6.3 4.6 4.5
Source: Office for National Statistics, National Records of Scotland, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency[1]

Suicide prevention[edit]

The UK is home to Samaritans, one of the first charities focused on suicide prevention. Anyone can call the Samaritans free of charge at any time.

The government of the United Kingdom and a number of international and national organizations have undertaken a variety of efforts and initiatives to prevent suicides. There are different associations that provide help and suggestions to suicidal people. Some notable organisations include Papyrus (a suicide prevention group founded in 1997 by a woman who lost her son to suicide),[12] Maytree (a sanctuary for the suicidal), and U can cope.[13]

In 2012, the United Kingdom government decided to spend £1.5 million to develop planning and strategies on preventing suicides.[14] In January 2013, the social networking site Facebook started a partnership with suicide-prevention organisation "Save.org" to provide data that will be used to identify warning signs of people at risk of suicide.[15]

On 10 October 2018, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced the UK's first Minister for Suicide Prevention.[16]

Terminology[edit]

There have been calls in the UK to change the language used around the topic of suicide, particularly the use of the phrase "commit suicide". The phrase is seen by some as wrongly suggesting suicide is a criminal act, thereby enforcing a notion of legal wrongdoing in the same way as "committing rape" or "committing murder". Suicide has not been illegal in England and Wales since the Suicide Act 1961, and has never been illegal in Scotland.[17]

The mainstream UK media currently observes the practice of avoiding the phrase "commit suicide" in line with the media reporting guidelines published by suicide prevention charity Samaritans, who refer to it as "inappropriate language".[18]

On 10 September 2018 (World Suicide Prevention Day) more than 130 British celebrities and campaigners called for an end to the phrase "commit suicide", instead preferring the term "die by suicide". The letter was backed by Samaritans, mental health charity Mind, Members of Parliament from all political parties, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, June Sarpong, Stephen Fry, Zoe Ball and others.[19][20]

See also[edit]

General:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Suicides in the UK: 2017 registrations. Office for National Statistics. Published 4 September 2018. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  2. ^ Male suicide: 'His death was the missing piece of the jigsaw'. BBC News. Published 28 March 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  3. ^ "World Mental Health Day: PM appoints suicide prevention minister". BBC. 10 October 2018. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  4. ^ "UK Suicide Rate Amongst Males Reaches 10-Year High In 2011 And Overall Number Rises 'Significantly'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  5. ^ "Suicide methods". University of Oxford (Centre for Suicide Research). Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  6. ^ Professor of Health and Mental Health Columbia University Barbara Berkman Helen Rehr/Ruth Fizdale Chair (11 January 2006). Handbook of Social Work in Health and Aging. Oxford University Press. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-19-803873-3. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  7. ^ Nancy J. Osgood (1992). Suicide in Later Life: Recognizing the Warning Signs. Lexington Books. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-669-21214-3. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  8. ^ J. Mark G. Williams (2001). Suicide and Attempted Suicide: Understanding the Cry of Pain. Mark Williams. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-14-100561-4. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  9. ^ N Kreitman (June 1976). "The coal gas story. United Kingdom suicide rates, 1960-71". Br J Prev Soc Med. 30: 86–93. doi:10.1136/jech.30.2.86. PMC 478945. PMID 953381.
  10. ^ International Association for Suicide Prevention. Congress (1 January 2004). Suicide Prevention: Meeting the Challenge Together. Orient Blackswan. p. 66. ISBN 978-81-250-2553-5. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  11. ^ Meikle, James (22 January 2013). "Alarm at rise in UK suicide rate". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  12. ^ "Who We Are". Papyrus. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Suicide prevention groups". patient.info. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  14. ^ "Suicide prevention strategy backed by £1.5m". The Guardian. London. 10 September 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  15. ^ "Facebook partners with suicide prevention project". Wired. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  16. ^ "PM pledges action on suicide to mark World Mental Health Day". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
  17. ^ "When suicide was illegal". BBC. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  18. ^ "Best practice suicide reporting tips". Samaritans. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  19. ^ "We Need To Stop Using This Word When Talking About Suicide". Refinery29. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  20. ^ "Stop saying 'commit suicide', urge celebrities and campaigners". Independent. Retrieved 14 October 2018.