Recession has left middle-aged men 'most at risk' of suicide
Men aged between 35 and 49 are now at higher risk of killing themselves than young men
12:00 GMT, 10 September 2012
Middle-aged men are now the most likely group to commit suicide in England, it was revealed today.
Men aged between 35 and 49 are now at higher risk of killing themselves than young men, previously the most at-risk group, according to government statistics.
The reason for this turnaround is due to employment and financial worries brought about by the recession, it is thought.
New suicide strategy: Men aged between 35 and 49 are now at higher risk of killing themselves than young men, previously the most at-risk group
The study says: 'Previously, periods of high unemployment or severe economic problems have had an adverse effect on the mental health of the population and have been associated with higher rates of suicide.
'Evidence is emerging of an impact of the current recession on suicides in affected countries.'
The study was released as the government today launched a strategy, World Suicide Prevention Day.
It has been ten years since the government published its previous plan to tackle suicide rates.
In that time, the rate of suicides has fallen, although there has been a slight increase in the last few years.
In 2008 to 2010, the three-year average suicide rate for men aged between 35 and 49 was 20.8 per 100,000 population, the highest of any group.
Men are three times more likely to take their own lives, the statistics show.
The strategy aims to combat this as part of its new strategy and will set aside 1.5million for new research into how to tackle suicide and self-harm.
Four key areas for researchers to look into have been identified:
A better understanding of why people commit suicide and how it can be prevented, supported by new suicide prevention research funding;A better support for high-risk groups, such as those with mental health problems and people who self-harm;Reducing opportunities for suicide, by making sure prisons and mental health facilities keep people safer and by the safer prescribing of potentially lethal drugs;Providing better information and support to those bereaved or affected by suicide.
Meanwhile, the Samaritans are launching a Call to Action initiative, which consists of national organisations from across England taking action to reduce suicides and help people bereaved or affected by suicide.
Care services minister Norman Lamb said: 'Over the last ten years there has been real progress in reducing the suicide rate, but it is still the case that someone takes their own life every two hours in England.
'We want to reduce suicides by better supporting those most at risk and providing information for those affected by a loved one’s suicide.'
Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, welcomed the government's strategy.
He told the BBC: 'As with all strategies, the real value comes with implementation.
'The funding pledged for research is a vital contribution. However, at a time when there are cuts to health services, we would strongly urge the government to invest in the services it expects to deliver this strategy.
'In addition, as our new health minister has today acknowledged, suicide prevention is everyone's business, so we need to see a real commitment from all government departments in supporting those at risk.'
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or to visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.