UK Suicide Rate Amongst Males Reaches 10-Year High In 2011 And Overall Number Rises 'Significantly'

The male suicide rate in Britain hit its highest level in nearly a decade in 2011 whilst the overall number of people taking their own life in Britain increased "significantly".

A total of 6,045 suicides were recorded among people aged 15 and over, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Tuesday, up 437 or 8% on the previous year.

The number of male suicides increased 8% to 4,552, which at a rate of 18.2 per 100,000 was the highest level since 2002.

Suicide statistics provide an indicator of the mental health of the nation

Female suicides also rose 8% to 1,493 or a rate of 5.6 per 100,000.

Two reports last year looked into the reasons behind suicides in the UK.

One, by sociologists from Cambridge University, attributed 1,000 suicides to "economic recession, rising unemployment and biting austerity measures" from 2008-10.

Another by the Samaritans, explored the reasons for suicide beyond mental health problems among middle-aged men and found a loss of masculine pride and identity can tip them over the edge, leaving them more likely to commit suicide.

It found that on average about 3,000 middle-aged men from disadvantaged backgrounds take their own lives each year

Last year the government announced a further £1.5 million in funding for research into suicide prevention among those most at risk of taking their own lives.

The pledge came as ministers unveiled a new suicide prevention strategy which aims to cut the suicide rate and provide more support to bereaved families.

The overall suicide rate in the UK increased from 11.1 to 11.8 per 100,000, the ONS said, while the highest suicide rate was among men aged 30 to 44 at 23.5 deaths per 100,000.

Among women, the highest rate of suicide was among 45 to 59-year-olds at 7.3 per 100,000.

In 2011, additional guidance was given to improve the classification of narrative verdicts at inquests in England and Wales.

A narrative verdict is a long-form, factual record of how and in what circumstances a death occurred and is used as an alternative to short-form verdicts such as suicide.

There had been concerns among researchers that these classification rules forced the ONS to record probable suicides as accidents.

So in 2011, the ONS identified common phrases used by coroners to terms allowed for the classification of intentional self-harm.

This additional guidance could have resulted in an increased number of narrative verdicts coded as intentional self-harm in 2011, the ONS said, which in turn could have contributed to the increase in the suicide rate.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised call The Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90