A phone link to the Samaritans at the bottom of cliffs at a notorious suicide spot near Bridgend, in south Wales. Photograph: Chris Ison/PA Significant rises in the overall UK suicide rate and in the proportion of men aged between 45 and 59 killing themselves have been reported by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Male suicides are now at their highest rate for nearly a decade, although they are still proportionally fewer than they were 30 years ago. The rate among men aged 45-59, which has gone up sharply in recent years, is at its worst since 1986.
In Wales, the overall suicide rate for men and women rose by 30% between 2009 and 2011.
The Department of Health in England last year identified middle-aged men as being at high risk of killing themselves, in its suicide prevention strategy, while a report for the Samaritans suggested men from low socioeconomic backgrounds living in deprived areas were 10 times more likely to die by suicide than were men from high socioeconomic backgrounds living in the most affluent areas.
Norman Lamb, the care services minister, said the figures caused very real concern, and they needed to be tackled "head on".
In all, 6,045 suicides were recorded among people aged 15 and over in 2011, the ONS said. That is up 437, or 8%, on the previous year, the rise being the same in percentage terms for men and women. The UK suicide rate is now 11.8 deaths per 100,000 people, up from 11.1 in 2010, and the highest since 2004.
The number of male suicides increased to 4,552, which at a rate of 18.2 per 100,000 was the highest level since 2002. The worst suicide rate remains among men aged 30 to 44, at 23.5 per 100,000; for 45 to 59-year-old men, the figure now stands at 22.2 per 100,000.
Female suicides rose to 1,493, a rate of 5.6 per 100,000. Although suicide among 15- to 29-year-old females is rare, the rate in this age group has also risen significantly, from 2.9 per 100,000 in 2007 to 4.2 per 100,000 in the latest statistics. Big gender differences have been recorded for a generation.
The ONS accepts that some of the increases could be down to changes in statistical recording. Coroners in England and Wales are now giving more "narrative" verdicts, where causes of death are difficult to identify. The ONS advised them to describe the circumstances of deaths in a way that could make clearer the intentions of those who died: for example, whether there was deliberate self-harm rather than an accident.
In England, the overall suicide rate is 10.4 deaths per 100,000, with the rate highest in the north-east, at 12.9, and lowest in London, at 8.9. In Wales, the suicide rate has leaped up sharply, from 10.7 in 2009 to 13.9 in 2011.
Changes in death registration rules and the way in which deaths are recorded in Scotland appear to have had a more dramatic effect on figures there, making statisticians cautious about comparing previous figures. In 2011, there were 889 suicides under the new rules and 772 under the old ones. But the General Register Office for Scotland says the "moving average" over recent years has consistently been "around 800 or so".
In Northern Ireland, there were 289 suicides in 2011, 216 men and 73 women. That figure is down from the 313 (240 men, 73 women) the previous year.
Article copied from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/22/suicide-numbers-rise-men