Recent figures have shown that the rate of registered suicides in England and Wales has risen to pre-pandemic levels following disruption and delays to coroners’ inquests during 2020.
Recently, a report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that there were 5,583 suicides registered in 2021 – equivalent to a rate of 10.7 deaths per 100,000 people. These figures are similar to those in 2018 and 2019, although higher than in 2020, as the rate was slightly lower at 10 deaths per 10,000 people. The ONS explained that the drop in registered suicides in 2020 was likely driven by a fall in male suicides and delays in death registrations.
This latest report includes deaths that occurred in 2020 and were registered the following year, which the ONS suggests that it provides evidence that the suicide rate did not increase because of the pandemic.
What can be done about suicide?
One way we can prevent suicide is by reaching out to people in need. Another is through research, so suicide is better understood and ultimately prevented. Here are four MQ-funded projects working to prevent people from taking their own lives:
We know that when someone attempts suicide and is admitted for hospital treatment, the risk remains high that they will try to take their own life again. But there is currently no standard, evidence-based help that staff can offer to reduce that risk. And many may find they experience delays in getting support from a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist too.
Professor Rory O’Connor and his team at the University of Glasgow conducted a study that investigated whether a programme of support developed for veterans in the US can be adapted to fill the urgent need in the UK.
Findings indicated that the SAFETEL study was both acceptable and feasible. Hospital staff reported that the intervention fitted and complemented existing services, and patients reported that they favoured the simplicity and person-centred approach of the safety planning intervention.
MQ-funded HOPES project aims to develop a model to predict who is at risk of suicide – analysing brain scans and data on suicidal behaviour and traits of young people from across the world to identify specific, universal risk-factors. Find out more
If we were able to identify warning signs in schools, we would have the opportunity to create targeted interventions to prevent children and young people from attempting suicide. To do this, Dr Rina Dutta and her team are linking data from schools with mental health data – providing a unique insight to determine if factors in schools can predict suicidal behaviours. Find out more.
Dr Aideen Maguire and her team at Queen’s University Belfast are finding out if having access to a gun increases suicide risk. This has been proven in the US, but in the UK – where laws and culture differ considerably – no research has ever been done in this area.
Aideen’s innovative study will find out and has the potential to support vital new ways to prevent suicide. Find out more.
If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email [email protected] or visit the Samaritans website to find details of the nearest branch. Samaritans is available 24/7 for anyone who is struggling, so please reach out.
You can find more resources for a range of different mental health conditions on our Get Help Now page.