Suicide remains a major public health concern in England and Wales, with over 5,000 deaths by suicide recorded in 2021. As we commence 2023, analysing the latest suicide statistics gathered by the Office for National Statistics is essential to comprehending this distressing trend and emphasising why suicide prevention is critical. This article provides a comprehensive overview of key data on suicide in England and Wales, including at-risk demographics, common methods, and how rates compare historically and internationally. Continue reading to boost your understanding of this sensitive topic and learn which age group is most likely to die by suicide.
The forthcoming statistical data and viewpoints on suicide in the UK and globally are courtesy of SOS Silence of Suicide, a notable non-profit organisation devoted to suicide prevention and mental health advocacy, and are based on data from the Office for National Statistics.
SOS Silence of Suicide recently published an in-depth study focusing on the most recent suicide rates in the UK, providing critical data for this discussion. The study reveals, among other facts, a comparison of rates with the previous year. Their research, including the analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics, along with practical support, gives singular insights into this pressing and yet often unaddressed public health crisis.
We acknowledge SOS Silence of Suicide for their dedication towards increasing awareness and their determination to provide communities with the necessary resources to address suicide in a compassionate, wisdom-centred way, referencing data on the age group at the highest risk of suicide. Their study and the suicide data can be accessed in full at: https://sossilenceofsuicide.org/recent-suicide-rates-in-the-uk-sos-study/
Suicide statistics in the UK and beyond: a call for compassion
Spiralling crisis in England and Wales
According to 2021 UK government data analysed by SOS Silence of Suicide (SOS), there were 5,219 registered suicide deaths, an increase of 307 from the prior year. Over 75% of individuals who died by suicide were male, marking them as the gender group at the highest risk of suicide.
Overall rising rates
The 2021 suicide rate reached 10.7 per 100,000 people in England and Wales. For men, who have the highest suicide rate, the 2021 data revealed an alarming rate of 16.0 per 100,000, which is over twice as high as the 5.5 per 100,000 rate amongst women.
Delving deeper, SOS research shows disproportionate impacts on certain UK communities:
- Wales – 347 suicide deaths in 2021, up 62 from 2020
- In England’s North East, there was the highest rate of suicide in 2021, at 14.1 per 100,000 residents.
- England’s North West – The rate of suicide saw a significant rise from 10.1 per 100,000 in 2020 to 12.9 per 100,000 in 2021, according to the data from the Office for National Statistics.
Mental health crisis impacting workplaces
According to SOS’s analysis, 2021 saw approximately 10.3 million recorded workplace mental health issues, bearing a financial burden of £117.9 billion, which indicates a higher risk of suicide in stressed employees.
- Council staff mental health analysis. Studies reveal that 30% of council staff sick days arise from mental health problems and unmanageable stress, indicating that these individuals may be in an age group at a higher risk of suicide.
- Suicidal thoughts among employees. Despite the growing focus on employee wellbeing, 9% of UK employees still grapple with suicidal thoughts, based on 2022 research.
- Reluctance among men to seek support. Alarmingly, just 7% of struggling men access vital support, although 75% of suicide victims are male.
Rising suicide rates globally
SOS highlights over 700,000 annual suicide deaths worldwide, per World Health Organization data.
- Ripple effects of loss. No corner of the globe is untouched by the loss of precious life and the resulting trauma rippling through communities.
- Reasons for hope. While the situation seems dire, SOS argues that compassion and understanding can still turn the tide if we work collectively. There is always hope.
While suicide statistics across the UK and around the world seem stark, the nonprofit SOS Silence of Suicide offers perspective grounded in compassion. Every single number represents someone’s beloved family member, friend, or coworker—a tragic loss of life reverberating through countless other souls left behind. Rather than remain overwhelmed, however, SOS argues we must lift each other up with radical kindness, vulnerable conversations, affordable mental health access, and community support. They encourage society to foster connectedness and destroy lingering stigma, which prevents struggling people from seeking lifesaving care.
By coming together, listening, understanding, and uplifting one another through darkness, we can help turn these alarming trends towards hope. SOS reminds us that where there is life, possibility waits within reach if we offer hands of empathy, never judgement. Small daily actions promoting worthiness, purpose, and belonging remain ever-open to each of us. Together, step-by-step, we can nurture new roots of meaning and mental wellness to emerge across every walk of life. Please call SOS on 0808 115 1505 (UK calls only) if you are experiencing mental health issues and need someone to talk to without judgement.
Jeffrey Grant, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.