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Dying from inequality: Socioeconomic disadvantage and suicidal behaviour

Summary Report

Living in poverty shouldn’t mean losing your life. Going through difficult times, like losing your job or being in debt, shouldn’t mean not wanting to live. But that is what’s happening in the UK and Ireland today. Suicide is killing the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people, devastating families and communities. This report by Samaritans, in collaboration with leading academics, reveals why.

Since the economic recession in 2008, the UK and Ireland have experienced economic change which has been felt across our communities. The effect on people has been wide-ranging and long-lasting, often well beyond the economic recovery period. Samaritans commissioned this report to ensure a better understanding about the association between socioeconomic disadvantage and suicidal behaviour and what can be done.

Our vision is that fewer people die by suicide. With our free, confidential helpline open all day, every day for anyone struggling to cope, and our work in a whole range of different settings, including prisons, schools, hospitals and job centres, we work hard to reach everybody who needs us. But this isn’t enough. We won’t reduce suicide by the provision of our services alone. We need governments and other agencies to take action to tackle the injustice of suicide.

Effective collaboration across central and local government and all the local agencies which play a role will be crucial. This must include welfare, education, housing, employment, health and finance. Improving the lives of people from lower income groups will save lives and untold costs for families, communities, workplaces and the economy.

Suicide is preventable. It will take all our efforts, wherever we are, to make sure that we reach those who are struggling to cope and most in need of our support. While looking at the research in this area, we must remember that, behind the figures, there are individuals who have left behind a family and community affected by their loss. By taking action together, we can stop people dying.