The suicide rate for young men has fallen to its lowest level for almost 20 years according to the second annual report on the National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England published last week.
This drop in young male suicide rates — down 30% since the 1998 peak - shows the first sustained downward trend since the problem of suicides in this group first escalated 25 years ago is continuing.
The report outlines where progress is being made by the Department of Health and the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) including:
Coroners' records of suicide cases have also been examined to help inform the Department's work to develop interventions to reduce suicides, and suggested ways of reducing access to the means of suicide such as restricting medication where people are at risk
Professor Louis Appleby, the National Director of Mental Health, welcomed the figures but said: 'Whilst these figures are positive, there were still nearly 4,500 registered suicides in 2003. There are many different reasons why people decide to take their own life, and each suicide represents both an individual tragedy and a loss to society. We must continue to work hard to ensure this downward trend continues."
Health Minister Rosie Winterton said: 'I'm extremely pleased with these figures. Part of the reason for the fall is legislation ordering pharmaceticual companies to reduce the size of paracetamol and aspirin packs. A recent study showed that suicides from overdoses of paracetamol or aspirin dropped nearly a quarter in the three years following the introduction of the legislation in 1998.
'The sustained downward trend shows that our national suicide prevention strategy is having an effect.'
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