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Recent Suicide Rates in the UK – SOS Study

Recent Suicide Rates in the UK – SOS Study

Suicide has become a silent epidemic, deeply impacting individuals, families, and communities across the UK. While statistics reflect real and tragic loss, we must remember that behind each number is a beloved person who was carrying profound pain.

Here at SOS Silence of Suicide, we approach this difficult data with empathy, wisdom, and care, using it to guide our outreach rather than allowing it to overwhelm. We believe that reliable statistics, paired with compassion, can lead to more effective support and prevention.

Spiralling U.K. Suicide Rates

According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were 5,219 suicide deaths registered in 2021, an increase of 307 from the previous year. 75% of those who died were male. [1]

Overall, the 2021 suicide rate hit 10.7 per 100,000 people in England and Wales [2]. Among males, the rate was over twice as high at 16.0 per 100,000, compared to 5.5 per 100,000 for females [3].

These numbers represent beloved fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, colleagues, and friends overcome by profound burdens. They reflect the tragic ripple effects of suicide on countless loved ones left behind, struggling to make sense of the loss.

While the grief may seem overwhelming today, there is still abundant reason to nurture hope, provide meaningful support, and work collectively to turn these alarming trends around.

Elevated Regional Suicide Rates

Digging deeper into the data, we see that suicide disproportionately impacts certain UK communities more than others. Wales saw 347 suicide deaths in 2021 [4], an increase of 62 from the previous year.

In England, the North East faced the highest suicide rate at 14.1 per 100,000 residents [5]. Meanwhile, the North West saw a concerning rise in rates, growing from 10.1 per 100,000 in 2020 to 12.9 per 100,000 in 2021 [6].

Challenges in addressing suicide do differ greatly by region, and our compassion and willingness to understand must remain universal. By strengthening bonds of community support and care in every area, we can uplift those struggling today.

Suicide Prevention in the Workplace

In 2021, there were an estimated 10.3 million recorded instances of mental health related instances in the workplace over a one-year period, costing the UK economy at least £117.9 billion annually [7].

A recent study by the British Psychological Society (BPS) and the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) found that councils in England lost over 500,000 working days to mental ill-health and stress [8] among their social care staff in the last year. Poor mental health and stress accounted for 30% of sickness absences among these staff.

The study also revealed that mental health issues and stress combined were the most common reasons for sickness absence among adults’ and children’s services staff in many councils. Rising levels of sickness absence coincide with increasing social worker vacancy rates and high workloads.

With the workplace profoundly impacted, forward-thinking organisations are rightfully making employee mental health and suicide prevention top priorities. Still, deeply concerning data persists.

A 2022 analysis by workplace wellness experts Champion Health found that 9% of UK employees are currently coping with suicidal thoughts or self-harm. Even more alarmingly, just 7% of struggling male employees are seeking vital support–despite 75% of suicides being among men [9].

This data reinforces that suicide disproportionately impacts working age individuals in their prime. It also shows how stigma around openly discussing mental health issues can have severe, tragic consequences for vulnerable employees in need.

As friends, family members, and colleagues, we all have a critical role to play in fostering open, stigma-free work cultures where suffering people feel safe reaching out. We must actively support those around us in finding help without any fear of judgement or ramifications. Each life saved will have a positive impact on countless others.

Rising Global Suicide Rates

Zooming out, the stark reality is that over 700,000 people die by suicide worldwide every year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) [10] – approximately one death every 40 seconds.

From Asia to Europe, Africa to the Americas, no society on earth is untouched by suicide’s tragic ripple effects. Friends, parents, siblings, partners, and children are left with enduring pain, questions that can never be answered, and regrets that weigh heavy.

Yet, while deeply painful to confront, this data also represents our shared opportunity to respond with wisdom, empathy, and care. Through compassionate understanding rather than fear or avoidance, we can prevent further loss.

Rising Suicide Rates in Scotland

Scotland continues to grapple with the tragic impacts of suicide as communities promote mental health and wellbeing. According to the National Records of Scotland, 762 probable suicide deaths were registered in 2022, an increase of 9 from the previous year [11].

The overall suicide rate measured 13.9 per 100,000 people [11], remaining stubbornly persistent.
Northern Ireland Suicide Data

In Northern Ireland, concerning trends show suicide continuing to deeply impact local communities. Data from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) indicates 237 suicide deaths were registered in 2021, the highest number since 2015 [12].

The male suicide rate in 2012 hit 21.5 per 100,000 people, nearly triple the female rate of 7.3 per 100,000 [12].

Age Variations in Suicide Data

Delving into the data, we see that suicide impacts certain age groups more than others. According to the ONS, middle-aged men face the highest risk of suicide [13].

However, suicide remains the tragic leading cause of death for promising young people under 35 in the UK – robbing families of their loved one’s future potential. Among adolescents, research shows 10% grapple with self-harm nationwide [14]. Behind these numbers are students, young professionals, and parents who faced profound struggles uncured by current systems of support.

While suicide causes horrific loss across age groups, there is hope in tailoring outreach and prevention efforts towards those most statistically vulnerable. Through compassion and understanding, we can provide meaningful care when it’s needed most.

Accessing Mental Health Support

Seeking help remains extremely difficult for many who are secretly struggling with suicidal thoughts. According to NHS Digital data, specific demographic groups have witnessed notably sharper rises over time. For instance, individuals aged between 55 and 64 have shown a marked increase in the prevalence of suicidal thoughts (rising from 2.1% in 2000 to 4.9% in 2014) and suicide attempts (escalating from 0.1% in 2000 to 0.6% in 2014). This significant uptrend has been observed in both men and women. [15].

This indicates that even among those facing the darkest moments internally, the majority still ultimately choose life when presented with non-judgmental care and support. We firmly believe that empathy, compassionate listening, and understanding facilitate this decision towards hope.

By openly discussing mental health challenges through a lens of compassion instead of shame, we can encourage vulnerable groups to access life-affirming care. Reminding all people of their inherent worth and goodness transcends stigma. There is light ahead; let us walk towards it together.


[1] – Suicides in England and Wales – Office for National Statistics, 6 September 2022
[2] – Suicides in England and Wales – Office for National Statistics, 6 September 2022
[3] – Suicides in England and Wales – Office for National Statistics, 6 September 2022
[4] – Suicides in England and Wales – Office for National Statistics, 6 September 2022
[5] – Suicides in England and Wales – Office for National Statistics, 6 September 2022
[6] – Suicides in England and Wales – Office for National Statistics, 6 September 2022
[7] – London School of Economics and Political Science, March 2022
[8] – The British Psychological Society, September 2023
[9] – Champion Health – Workplace Health Report
[10] – World Health Organization (WHO)
[11] – National Record of Scotland – Probable Suicides 2022
[12] – NISRA – Finalised Suicide Statistics in Northern Ireland 2015 to 2021
[13] – Suicides in England and Wales – Office for National Statistics, 6 September 2022
[14] – Mental Health Foundation – The Truth About Self Harm
[15] – NHS Digital – Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey: Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing