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In 2015, there were 6,188 deaths in the UK where the cause was determined as suicide. The suicide rate in the UK has fallen by 26% since 1981. The rate has not changed substantially since around 2003, though it is slightly higher now than its lowest point in 2007.

Suicide rates are higher in Northern Ireland than in England and Wales. Northern Ireland’s suicide rate rose sharply between 2004 and 2008.

The suicide rate among men is three times higher than among women. This gap has grown since the 1980s, as rates among women have fallen at a faster rate than among men. The gender gap is widest in Scotland, and narrowest in Wales.

Suicide rates are highest among ages 40-54. Among men aged 20-49 and women aged 20-34, suicide is the most common cause of death. Among men aged 20-29, suicides make up over 30% of avoidable deaths.

Of English regions, suicide rates are highest in the North East and lowest in London. Rates have also fallen the fastest in London – in the 1980s, London had the highest rates. (Click to enlarge chart below)

Suicide rates by English region trends

In Scotland, there is a link between suicide rates and deprivation. Rates among the most deprived people are three times higher than among the least deprived people. However, this gap has narrowed over the last decade.

Health Committee Inquiry

In late 2016, the Health Select Committee undertook an inquiry into suicide prevention. You can follow their hearings here, and read submitted evidence and their interim report here.

Getting help

If you are affected by the themes of this briefing paper, you can call Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 (UK) 1850 60 90 90 (ROI) or visit the Samaritans website to find details of the nearest branch.

If you are covering a suicide-related issue, please consider following the Samaritans’ media guidelines on the reporting of suicide, due to the potentially damaging consequences of irresponsible reporting.

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