Skip to main content

Suicide prevention: A guide for local authorities

Case studies

From the early 1980s onwards there was a pretty consistent downwards trend in suicide rates in England, but that began to change a decade ago. Since then the numbers have risen. It is hard to pinpoint exactly why this has happened, although many believe the economic downturn has been a key factor.

The situation has prompted government to place a higher priority on the issue.

In 2012 ministers launched a strategy, Preventing suicide in England: a cross government outcomes strategy to save lives, which set out six areas for action. These were:

• reduce the risk of suicide in key high-risk groups
• tailor approaches to improve mental health in specific groups
• reduce access to the means of suicide
• provide better information and support to those bereaved or affected by suicide
• support the media in delivering sensitive approaches to suicide and suicidal behaviour
• support research, data collection and monitoring.

Since then progress has been made. The most recent national data shows that the suicide rate for males in England fell in 2015 to 15.4 per 100,000, down from 16 the year before. It was the second consecutive annual fall.

Experts say it is too early to conclude if this is part of a long-term trend. In addition, female suicide rates have risen for the second year in a row. In January 2017 Theresa May’s government called on local government and its partners to do just that as it published the third progress report on the suicide strategy.

It praised the progress that has been made, while calling for more emphasis on self-harm prevention and greater collaboration with schools and colleges.