ONS: Suicide in England and Wales 2019 Registrations

Type: Statistical Bulletin
Published by Office of National Statistics, September 2020

This statistical bulletin was produced on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government. It was published through the Office of National Statistics and provides the reader with details regarding deaths concluded as being by suicide registered in 2019.

Key Main Points
  • In 2019, there were 5,691 suicides registered in England and Wales.
  • Around three-quarters of registered deaths in 2019 were among men (4,303 deaths).
  • The England and Wales male suicide rate is the highest since 2000 and remains in line with the rate in 2018; for females, the rate is the highest since 2004.
  • Males aged 45 to 49 years had the highest age-specific suicide rate; for females, the age group with the highest rate was 50 to 54 years.
  • Despite having a low number of deaths overall, rates among the under 25’s have generally increased in recent years this is particularly marked for 10- to 24-year-old females where the rate has increased significantly since 2012.
Links and Support

The direct source for this publication can be found at the following Web-Site Link hosted by The Office of National Statistics

If you are personally affected or concerned about anyone else, you can find support through the Waiting Room Online Directory.

You will find a range of services that can provide support including Samaritans and CALM.

Superheroes Need Not Apply

One of the biggest fears around suicide is our fear of asking about it. 

Expectations

When I first started running my own company working in the field of suicide prevention, my youngest child would find it hard to get his head around what I did. After seeing “The Incredibles” and the scene where Mr. Incredible saves a mans’ life from jumping off a tower block, he thought that’s what I did. It was hard for me to tell him the truth, after-all, every Dad wants to be a super-hero; or at least a rocket scientist. But unfortunately I am neither.

Late 2015, I found myself sitting unexpectedly on the BBC Breakfast Red Sofa opposite Naga Munchetty. I had been called up last minute.com to sit alongside a young Dublin chap named Jamie Harrington who at the age of 15 walked over to a man standing precariously close to the edge of a bridge and asked him “Are you O.K?” The conversation between Jamie and the man led to that man stepping back from the bridge and being alive today.

When I talked about the importance of talking to people who may have suicidal thoughts, Naga said “but you’re a specialist?” – this is even in spite of the very fact that the young man sitting next to me that morning, who was not a “specialist” had, just through the means of a conversation saved a mans’ life.

Day in, day out I engage with articles, reports, reviews, research and all manner of suicide related social media messages in a range of formats to keep myself up to speed with what is happening in the world of suicide prevention – after all, it’s my job. But preventing suicide is not something that requires a “specialist” knowledge. It is not rocket science and should never be touted as such. Neither is it just something that sits squarely in the domain of the academic world nor the clinical world.

Effective suicide prevention should not view the individual as the problem. But there is something about society and societies perceived fear of the challenge of suicide. If we are going to point the finger of blame, we maybe need to consider pointing the finger at ourselves first.

So, these are the “facts” as I see it:

1) Suicidal thought is human. It is not a direct result of mental illness but is certainly a result of crisis – A crisis so extreme for the individual with suicidal thoughts that they at that moment may not be able to see any other option. Obviously, you could argue that having suicidal thoughts means that their mental health is not good but many people with a mental illness do not attempt suicide and many people without a diagnosed mental health problem…DO.

2) Conversation is key and fear of that conversation is the barrier – We need to ask people if they are O.K. We also need to ask people if they are thinking of ending their life. If we don’t ask the question and don’t have the conversation, then we are in effect doing nothing to reduce the likely-hood of a suicide being completed.

3) Be straight up – Skirting around the edges of the possibility of suicide in a fluffy and non-direct way will mean that most people with thoughts of suicide will not open up. They will instead see you as playing no role in their final decision around suicide – therefore, we need to say it as we see it. We need to be direct and get to the point, after all a life may be at risk here.

4) Without a conversation about suicide many people will die by suicide. With the conversation, some people will still die by suicide. But at least you had the conversation. At the end of the day, there will always be suicide, however, we need to present people with opportunity to find hope in living.

5) You are not there to fix them. Many people with thoughts of suicide, given the time, the space and a non-judgmental opportunity for open dialogue will find their own solutions in keeping themselves safe. They just need a supportive hand to make their solutions come to fruition.

6) Suicide is everyone’s responsibility – For a second, forget all the statistics about people with suicidal thoughts and the likely-hood of them being in touch with mental health services, criminal justice, Doctors etc…. Just hold onto this statistic – 100% of all people that take their own life lived in a community. Therefore…it’s down to all of us. Simple.

7) We are not super-heroes, nor rocket scientists – and nor do we need to be.

If you are concerned about somebody or you are struggling and need someone to talk to then contact Samaritans – Telephone: 116123


Written by Terry Rigby (2016)

Company Director – Forward For Life

Get in touch:

Tel: 07585776800

e: info@forwardforlife.org


Why the X Generation?

“Give me the child of 7 and I will show you the man” – the origins of this quote are disputed but the applicability I believe has deep resonance in the world of suicide prevention, especially when the world they have been prepared for moves the goalposts.

Age is just a number

Working in the field of suicide prevention since before the turn of the century I have witnessed more than my fair share of sweeping statements, confusing statistics and utter nonsense’s; some of the former and the latter I have fell foul of myself before I learned the often underrated wisdom of listening and learning before speaking. But by being so entrenched in this field one of the most overlooked facts is that, for both men and women, the age of the person most vulnerable to undertaking a suicidal act has been shifting over time. Not sporadically but in a slow, steady and clearly distinguishable wave. This wave is known to many as Generation X.

Who is the X Generation?

Between the post war Baby Boomers and the mid-80’s born Millenials sat Generation X – people born between the mid 1960’s and the early 80’s. A demographic that is often referred to as the MTV Generation, followers of Grunge or Hip-Hop and viewed by many as slackers, cynical and disaffected during the 90’s and obsessed with the concept of work/life balance today. They are the generation of the Sinclair home computers, desktop word-processors, the pager, the brick sized mobile phones, the CD, the DVD, the answering machine, the Walkman, mixtapes recorded directly from the radio, the video store and the shopping centre.


Recognition

On August 13th 2019, the Office of National Statistics produced a report entitled Middle-aged generation most likely to die by suicide and drug poisoning – although devastating in nature, I was relieved to see overt recognition of the challenge of Generation X in black and white from the ONS. This is because I remember all too well the mid 90’s when the age highlighted for being most vulnerable to suicidal acts was in the mid 20’s and by the turn of the century is was the 30 year olds, in 2010 we were concentrating on those in the 40 year age bracket and now, it is those in the late 40’s age bracket – my age bracket – my Generation X

Throughout the report there are relationships being lightly drawn between deprivation and suicide rates as well as drug poisonings and suicide. This phenomenon is not only restricted to England and Wales though as it is noted it is equally relevant in the USA as well as Canada. However, even though there is reference made to Generation X, there is no reference to another set of crucial levers that I believe has a huge influence on suicides amongst this generation being the effect on individuals being socialized according to the values of our Baby Boomer parents and the impact of socialization in a world that for many countries changed significantly. A world that no longer lay in-sync with ideals and values of Generation X. It should be noted though, that the ONS writers cannot be held to account for this – after all, this concept is floating into the arms of sociological theory – not a place where ONS understanding has a strong allegiance.


Societies part

From a personal perspective (which this whole article is), socialization of Generation X by the Baby-Boomer generation can be best encapsulated between the pages of the Ladybird “Peter and Jane” series.

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From the toys we were given as boys and girls our futures were being laid out before us. Peter with his crane, toy soldiers, diecast cars and train set and Jane with her dolls, kitchen playset and toy pram. Peter helping his Dad with DIY and Jane baking cakes with mum…for the Dad and Peter.

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Peter giving Dad a hand with securing the car whilst Jane helps her mum to get the tea. For many people of Generation X, these publications ‘helped’ to mould our identities, define our anticipated roles in society as well as subdue any alternative ‘outlandish’ ways of being that sat outside these specific frameworks of how to be a man and a woman in the making.

In addition to the written word for Generation X (including Jacky annual for the girls and Victor for the boys), further reinforcement from peers and family members served to reinforce the mould for what we represented in adulthood. We become the products of ‘hard working’, sole bread-winning fathers and grand-fathers in the manufacturing industries who never spoke of the war, never uttered their feelings, never asked for help but instead spoke through their actions and found their leisure pursuits traditionally best served by the local public house on the evening and weekends. On the other side were our mothers and grandmothers who stayed at home, ‘did their motherly duty’, patched us up, cooked, cleaned and generally served us and our male seniors; All of us in preparation for our well-defined futures. And, to be honest, it was all good, because that was reality for many of the Generation X’s as we knew nothing else – and the repurcussions of a short, sharp, smack to get us back on track reinforced this reality as the only reality available.

Political shifts

But the 70’s and the 80’s also saw wider upheavels – it saw legal changes in respect of divorce laws and sex discrimination; it witnessed Thatcherism and it’s push for home ownership; fragmentation through the miners strikes leading to the demise of power across traditional working class represented unions, the painful shift from the traditional UK based manufacturing stronghold and mass unemployment; a passionate ground-swell of rights for women going into further education and beyond and a strong will to push through the glass ceiling of business as well as a belief that both parents can ‘bring home the bacon’ and with that came the ‘latch-key kids’ who were desperately looking to work out how they fitted.

I believe most passionately that because of these wider societal shifts and many more (unmentioned but as valid) besides, Generation X were provided with one framework with a clear purpose yet found themselves growing up in a society where this framework and societally defined purpose became for many, unfit for purpose – it became redundant. Adaptation to these new set of rules has been unbelievably hard for many Generation X women and men with for too many fatal consequences.

Gender identity

For me, I got lucky if lucky is the word. Until the age of 11 I thought I knew reality and knew my purpose. Then my Mum upset the family apple-cart and went to University to study Sociology, something back then that warranted a column in the local town’s newspaper when she obtained her degree. The (often perceived) change in the status-quo at home contributed to a number of outcomes – some unfortunate (divorce being one of them) and some fortunate, being mainly an opportunity to question what had recently been unspoken territory nor up for negotiation until that point. But for many family members, their view of how the world worked was entrenched in them until their last day – socialization is a very powerful force indeed. When I was 20, I was made redundant from the warehouse I was employed at. I loved my job, made some excellent life-long friends and feel that my life benifitted hugely from this experience. But for me, my next step was to look at a different direction of vocational travel. During Sunday Roast with my family, I told my Grandad that I wanted to go to University and study to be a Social Worker and his well intentioned response will always stay with me….

“A social worker? That’s no job for you. You should be a soldier like your brother or a welder. A proper mans job.”

Now, I loved my Grandad to bits with his no-nonsense view of the world, but thankfully on that occassion I didn’t take his advice although sometimes when I look at what Social Workers have to deal with on a day to day basis I often wonder whether his advice had some legs.

Eyes on the horizon

Today, as part of the SCHEMA: An Approach to Suicide Prevention training and as part of the ManMade Peer Support Programme we run, we set aside time to discuss and reflect on the wider influences that may have an impact on Generation X regarding suicide – we recognise deprivation, we recognise substance misuse but we also recognise that suicide is not only about trying to understand the individual and their perceived problems – it’s much bigger than this and goes much deeper. It requires us to look at ourselves, our histories, our societies and what drives us in truly understanding why people may take their own lives. The challenge then is that when we have come to a clearer conclusion as to why Generation X is at risk we then need to look at what can be done about it – without taking our eyes off the generations to come – an opportunity to use what we have learned to make all our futures brighter.


Written by Terry Rigby: Company Director of Forward For Life 2019

10th September. And then?

What are you doing  for World Suicide Prevention Day – Are you going to wear purple, wear a yellow ribbon, light a candle in a window,  cycle, walk?

If you are doing any of these things then that’s great.

But what about the day after? The 11th September, what will you do then?

Will you stop and just get on with your day to day life until next World Suicide Prevention Day comes along or are you willing to carry on – to take the next steps in continuing to make a real difference?

Are you going to get clued up about what to do if someone close to you appears to be in turmoil, appears to be crying out for help, appears to be in a place where you need to ask the question “are you thinking of ending your life?” and then actually ask the question.

…and if they say “yes”

…are you willing to listen, non-judgmentally, as to why they may want to die?

Are you going to help them realise alternatives?…and if so, do you know what services, what options, what possibilities there might be to help this person live if they so choose?

For me, Suicide Prevention is not all about being aware of services, but it is all about being aware of what you can do to make a difference. Being aware of what you are capable of.

Suicide prevention is not the sole responsibility of mental health services. It is not the sole responsibility of suicide prevention organisations…and nor should it be… It is everybody’s business…everybody’s responsibility.

So what are you going to do about it…not just on World Suicide Prevention Day, but also for the rest of the year?

Written by T Rigby. Director at Forward For Life

The Trouble With Boys or Us?

On the 13th June 2016 ManMade | The Conference took place. It was a hugely powerful day where delegates got the chance to properly engage with the issue of men and suicide.

Key note speeches from both professional and personal standpoints kept the delegates firmly rooted.

After saying my goodbyes to delegates, speakers and all the supporters at this event I eventually got to sit my exhausted carcass down at a local watering hole with a pint of oddly named real ale alongside the ManMade co-founders to look through the feedback sheets.

There were the usual odd niggles regarding the menu offered, the heat within the venue, a workshop being a little too short or too long, but in the vast majority of responses the overall feeling was unanimous – ManMade had been an absolute success – a number of delegates even said this had been the best conference they had ever attended (and we didn’t even pay them!)

But something had been bothering me – it felt like something hadn’t been answered as well as it might have been on the day – and then it clicked – the one question that had been asked that hadn’t been fully explored:

“How do we get boys to talk?”

A long slow road to change

Answers to this question on the day revolved around the need for giving boys time, space, encouragement, opportunities through peer group empowerment, through training of youth peers, via education within schools as well as improving personal relationships with their adult male peers (whoever their positive adult male peers may be).

But there is a bigger challenge…a challenge that can’t be just tinkered with at the edges.

A challenge at a societal level

ManMade is an amazing programme. It gives us as men the unique opportunity to enter into conversation with other men about the world we inhabit; a world we directly affect and are directly affected by. The framework for ManMade is designed  to achieve this by being both necessarily structured in format yet flexible and open in its application. Conversations can swing from the sublime to the ridiculous yet always brings about a sense of hope and well-being that is palpable for all participants.

In essence, ManMade, as a peer support programme promotes well-being. The opportunity and space to reconsider ourselves and how we fit in the world around us aids to protect us to an extent from some of the emotionally debilitating crap that life with all its broad-brush expectations will inevitably throw at us. But ManMade falls short of doing one thing, and that one thing at the moment, is “prevent” because to prevent men from getting to this point, there needs to be a much deeper sea change. A change that questions the whole notion of gender allocation. A change where gender is either totally redefined or completely thrown out (and that’s not just the male identity). To define us by deeply embedded societal norms before we even start to crawl for many men (and women too) only serves to set us up for one mighty fall.

An answer

So in answer to the question “How can we get boys to talk?” Simply put, it’s by taking a long hard look at how we define the boy and their enforced identity from the very start, at all levels, in each and every section of society and changing it BIG STYLE! A very simple solution in word but not in deed and a solution that I for one  believe will not be witnessed fully in my lifetime.

In effect, we all, often unwittingly, set men up to fail because of the very nature of our taken-for-granted assumptions of them and so in effect, we all have to shoulder some responsibility for the number of suicides by men, as we all, without even realising it, are perpetuating the myth of what a man is expected to be; And no man can nor should be all that.

Written by T Rigby - Director of Forward For Life June 2016

ManMade|The Conference was organised by Midlands-based social enterprises Forward for Life and Common Unity.

Together, they conceptualised, designed and delivered ManMade, an innovative peer-led support service aimed at reducing male suicide. Initially piloted and recommissioned in the Midlands, the developers of ManMade are looking to establish it as an approach further afield.


Terry Rigby – Co-Founder of ManMade

e. info@forwardforlife.org

t. 07585776800


If you are having thoughts of suicide or concerned about someone else please go to The Waiting Room

Or contact – Samaritans // Listening service – 24 hours a day, any day – CALL 116 123 (UK, ROI) // EMAIL jo@samaritans.org

CALM // Suicide Prevention support (5pm – Midnight) CALL 0800 58 58 58 // SMS (text messsage) 07537 404717


Forward For Life

Who are we?

Established in 2012 in Birmingham, we are a Social Enterprise that through our programmes of work and training aim to support our communities and professionals from across the board to become more suicide aware and be enablers of improved quality of life.

FFL work alongside communities, the Health and Social Care sector and Private with a specialist knowledge in the fields of Mental Health, Well-Being and Suicide Prevention.

We engage with the core belief that communities and professionals across all walks of life have the ability to make a real difference in their own and others health and wellbeing.

Our particular passion centres on Suicide Prevention and we believe the key to reducing the number of deaths by suicide does not just lie in the hands of health professionals but must be, and can be, dealt with effectively by everybody whatever their background.

“by engaging communities directly and by giving community members the skills and ongoing development opportunities to support people at risk of suicide, I believe, we can make a real difference.”

Our EPIC approach

Developed alongside Common Unity in 2016, Forward For Life adopts the EPIC approach to meet our aims as an organisation.

Through programmes that Educate, Protect, Intervene and Champion we support people to know what needs to be done to keep themselves and those around them as well as they can be.

Our approach to improving wellbeing recognises that short term investment in individual wellbeing has huge benefits in the long term.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – Benjamin Franklin

That’s why people are at the heart of everything we do. So, all our
programmes don’t start with illness, they start with building health and wellbeing.

Educate

Knowledge is power, and if people are educated to know what helps them function in a more healthy way, then people have the power to look after themselves better.

Intervene

The learning we promote is one that helps people help themselves and help others. Being able to recognise and support others when they are struggling has benefits for all.

Protect

Life often throws us a curve ball. Our programmes support people to know what techniques they can use to best cope with the challenges we often unexpectedly face.

Champion

Good wellbeing is paramount in realising a good quality of life. We utilise every opportunity, be it training, programme development, events design or strategic support, to champion the importance of good wellbeing for all. We also champion other like-minded organisations across the health and social care sector.

Get in touch

If you want to hear more about what we do or how to access our training then please contact us.

E. info@forwardforlife.org

Tel: 07585776800