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Government must see suicide as a class issue

The latest suicide figures from the Office of National Statistics demonstrate that social class remains the main factor. The MHF have called on the government to recognise this in its inequalities agenda. 

The UK suicide rate for men peaked in 1998 but has since fallen, while the suicide rate for women was stable between 1991 and 2004. However, there are large differences in suicide rates between countries and regions of the UK. During the period 1991 to 2004 the rate for men in Scotland was 50% higher than the rate for the UK as a whole. The ten local areas with the highest suicide rates for men in the UK were all in Scotland.

Men had higher suicide rates than women throughout the period. In men, the highest suicide rates in were seen in men aged 15-44 from 1998 onwards and in women the highest rates were in those aged 75 and over across the period.

Analysis of suicides in England and Wales between 1999 and 2003 showed rates in the most deprived areas were double those in the least deprived.

Dr Ian Banks, President of the Men's Health Forum, said: 'These figures confirm that social class is the biggest single factor for suicide among young men. It is almost exclusively among the lowest income families that suicide is taking place. The geographic distribution shown in today's figures reflects the social inequalities that exist in the UK.

'We therefore need to address suicide as an inequalities issue. For instance, although the UK suicide rate for men may have been falling since 1998, in Northern Ireland there has been a depressing increase among young men.

'I would hope that today's figures will add extra weight to the Government's commitment to tackle inequalities.'

Page created on August 31st, 2006

Page updated on December 1st, 2009