Suicide rates did not rise during Covid pandemic ‘contrary to speculation’, new ONS figures show

Latest figures show that around three-quarters of suicides were male

Suicides did not rise during the Covid pandemic “contrary to some speculation at the time”, new figures have shown.

New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that in 2021, there were 5,583 suicides registered in England and Wales, which is equivalent to a rate of 10.7 deaths per 100,000 people.

In 2021, there were 5,583 suicides registered in England and Wales

Although this was statistically significantly higher than the 2020 rate of 10.0 deaths per 100,000 people, it was consistent with the pre-Covid pandemic rates in 2019 and 2018.

The fall in the suicide rate in 2020 was likely to have been driven by a decrease in male suicides at the start of the pandemic and delays in death registrations, the ONS said.

The latest figures also include deaths that occurred in 2020 and were subsequently registered in 2021 due to disruption to coroners’ inquests.

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James Tucker, head of analysis in the health and life events division of the ONS, said: “The latest available evidence shows that suicide rates did not increase because of the coronavirus pandemic, which is contrary to some speculation at the time.”

What else did the latest figures show?

The latest figures show that around three-quarters of suicides were male, which is equivalent to 16.0 deaths per 100,000 and consistent with long-term trends, with the rate for females was 5.5 deaths per 100,000.

Suicides among males was highest in those aged 50 to 54 years (22.7 deaths per 100,000), and among females it was highest in those aged 45 to 49 years (7.8 deaths per 100,000).

However, females aged 24 years or under have seen the largest increase in the suicide rate since the time series began in 1981, said the ONS.

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In England, in 10 out of the 11 previous years, London has had the lowest suicide rate of any region of England (6.6 deaths per 100,000), while the highest rate was in the North East with 14.1 deaths per 100,000 in 2021.

If you are struggling, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123. This helpline is available from any phone on a 24/7 basis. You can also email [email protected].

There’s also other sources of support, such as those listed on the NHS help for suicidal thoughts webpage.