Suicide rates in women have gone up in England, according to the figures from 2014 released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today.  Women’s suicide has reached the highest rate since 2005, an increase of 14% since the previous year. Across the UK 113 more women took their own lives than in the previous year.

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said, ‘It’s of great concern to see an indication of an increase in female suicide. Samaritans’ goal is that fewer people die by suicide and these figures help us to be more targeted in our work and reinforce the need for all agencies, the police, prisons, schools and NHS to work together to reduce death by suicide.

Today’s figures do show a slight decrease in male suicide across the UK, however they are still the most high risk group and are 3 times more likely to die by suicide than women. More specifically, men aged 45-59, are still the group with the highest suicide rate.

“These statistics show that Samaritans work is vital. Suicide is a society wide issue. Samaritans is always there for anyone struggling to cope, whatever they’re going through. Moving forward we would like to see more real-time reporting of suicide deaths. Such information would allow us, and others, to react in a timely manner to emerging trends in suicide and identify high risk groups quickly and respond to these trends as they happen to allow us to take action earlier, and change lives.” 

Samaritans is encouraged that overall the figures reveal a 2% decrease in suicide rate across the UK, 120 fewer deaths than in the previous year.

Year-on-year statistics should be treated with caution and Samaritans will continue to monitor trends over time in order to understand which groups are most at risk of suicide and respond accordingly.

Dr Andrew Mayers, a psychologist specialising in mental health at Bournemouth University and Patron for the Samaritans of Bournemouth and District, said “The overall fall in suicides across the UK is welcome. However, the increase for women is of great concern. Much of my local and national work focuses on mothers’ mental health. We know that suicide is largest cause of death in women of childbearing age. Mental illness is the biggest factor for these deaths. We need to do more to protect women at this most vulnerable time”.