The north-east of England has once again recorded the highest suicide rate in England and Wales, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The region has held this unfortunate distinction for the third consecutive year. The statistics reveal that the rate of suicide in the North East in 2022 was 12.8 deaths per 100,000 people, significantly higher than the national average of 10.7 deaths per 100,000 people. In comparison, London has the lowest suicide rate in the country, with only seven deaths per 100,000 people.
The ONS data also shows that men accounted for approximately 74% of suicide deaths across England and Wales in 2022, highlighting the gender disparity in suicide rates. The figures suggest that overall suicide rates in the country have remained relatively stable compared to the previous year. However, it is crucial to remember that behind these statistics are real people facing immense emotional pain and distress.
Professor Louis Appleby at the University of Manchester suggests that economic factors play a significant role in population suicide rates. Individuals in insecure or low-paid jobs may be more susceptible to financial stress and debt, which can contribute to their fears and mental health struggles. While the cost of living crisis may not be the sole cause of higher suicide rates in the North East, it is likely to exacerbate existing vulnerabilities in the region.
In light of these alarming statistics, a new mental health “safe haven” will open in Ashington, Northumberland, in January. The facility, funded by the NHS, aims to provide specialist services for individuals in crisis and reduce the suicide rate in the region. Operated by the Newcastle-based mental health charity Everyturn, the center will offer a non-clinical alternative to emergency departments or crisis teams. Pasha Tanriverd at Everyturn emphasizes the importance of such services, stating that recovery involves more than just medical intervention.
The local community has expressed their support and enthusiasm for the upcoming safe haven. Les Welsh, a boxing instructor who runs a support group for men in Ashington, believes that the center will be well-received, providing a space where individuals can openly share their problems. Plans are also underway to establish additional safe havens in Newcastle and North Tyneside, offering greater accessibility to mental health support in the region.
The high suicide rates in the North East underscore the urgent need for comprehensive mental health services and support networks. While the opening of the safe haven in Ashington is a step in the right direction, it is crucial that efforts continue to address the underlying factors contributing to the region’s distressing statistics. By prioritizing mental health and providing accessible resources, communities can work together to prevent future tragedies and support those in need.