The latest figures aren’t pretty.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the suicide rate for men in England and Wales in 2019 was the highest for two decades.
Men accounted for three-quarters of suicide deaths last year – 4,303 compared with 1,388 women. That’s 16.9 deaths per 100,000 – the highest since 2000 and in line with the 2018 rate. Of those 4,303 male cases, those aged between 45 to 49 had the highest age-specific suicide rate at 25.5 deaths per 100,000 men.
Ruth Sutherland, Samaritans chief executive, said the charity is most worried about those with pre-existing mental health conditions, less well-off middle-aged men and young people who self-harm.
The provisional stats for 2020 read differently, and at first glance, somewhat ‘better’ – every death is a tragedy – with 6.9 suicide deaths per 100,000 people in England between April and June, the lowest of any quarter since 2001. However, on closer inspection, this could be a false reading.
According to the ONS, the low number of suicide deaths registered during this period could be down to inquests being delayed because of the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Deaths registered caused by suicide in quarter two of 2020 should be interpreted with caution; this likely reflects delays to inquests because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the coroner’s service,” it said. “Given the length of time it takes to hold an inquest [around five months], we do not currently know the total number of suicides that occurred during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Should we be expecting this figure to increase? According to Sutherland not necessarily: “It is not inevitable that suicide rates will go up as a result of coronavirus, but we know that the pandemic is impacting on lost of people’s lives and exacerbating some known risk factors for suicide for some people who are already vulnerable.”
Concerned with how you are feeling? Spotting unusual behaviours among any of your friends? It’s not always easy to recognise how you are feeling, even more so with others. A lot of the time it will seem as though there are no signs at all. But, if you can identify some of the signals, you could genuinely save someone’s life, even yours
Signs of Suicidal Thoughts in Yourself
Here are some of the things you may think or feel if you are contemplating suicide, according to UK wellbeing charity CABA:
Everything’s hopeless, what’s the point in living?
There’s nothing positive in my life, everything’s negative
Everyone would be better off without me
I’m useless, unwanted or unneeded by others
My unbearable pain is never going to end
I’m physically numb, and feel cut off from my body
Taking my own life is my only option
You may also experience sleeping problems, including waking up too early. You may notice changes in your appetite and potentially lose or gain weight. Your self-esteem may be very low, and you may try to avoid contact with other people. You may feel no need to take care of yourself, either physically or mentally or both.
One of these symptoms in isolation may not be an indicator of suicidal thoughts, but if you experience more than one, or it becomes a regular thing, it could be a sign that something is seriously up.
Signs of Suicidal Thoughts in Others
Trying to figure out what’s going on in someone’s head? If your friends or family do any of the following, it’s time to step in:
Talk about feelings of hopelessness
Have sudden episodes of rage and anger
Act recklessly and take part in risky activities with no concern for the consequences
Say they feel trapped, and that they can’t see their way out of their problems
Self-harm (this includes misusing drugs or alcohol)
Become increasingly withdrawn or appear anxious and agitated
If you or someone close to you is experiencing these feelings or showing any of the above signs, there are many organisations on hand that can provide advice and support through their dedicated helplines. Alternatively, contact your GP or call NHS 111 for an emergency appointment.
Call 116 123 any day, any time, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)
Call the helpline on 0800 58 58 58.
Call the helpline on 0800 068 41 41.