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North-East male suicides increase to decade high
THE number of people in the North-East taking their own life increased significantly in 2011 with the number of men committing suicide at its highest level in more than a decade, new figures have revealed.
Records show that 273 people committed suicide in the region in 2011 – up 38 from 2010 and the most since 2004.
The region had the highest suicide rate in the country with 12.9 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The suicide rate among men was more than four times higher than women.
Some 218 men - 21.5 deaths per 100,000 - took their own lives in 2011 – the highest number since 2000.
Fifty five women took their lives in the same year – 4.7 deaths per 100,000 people.
Lyn Boyd, chief executive of Mental Health North East, a consortium of voluntary sector organisations working with people suffering mental distress, warned that the suicide rate is likely to increase still further.
She added: “The recession is really starting to bite and Mental Health North East predicts that these figures will rise sharply in the next five years.
“People are now living with so much uncertainty in their lives and the whole range of austerity measures have meant that support services are being cut back.”
Shirley Smith, from North-East charity If U Care Share, which was set up in memory of Mrs Smith’s son Daniel O’Hare who took his own life aged 19, said she was not surprised by the rise in suicides.
“We used to say suicide was one of the biggest killers - now we can’t say that as it’s become the biggest killer of young men.
“We call it the silent killer because nobody talks about it.”
Mrs Smith said the economic downturn was probably one of the reasons for the increase.
However, she added: “There are so many different things that can impact on someone’s emotional and mental health. We would urge anyone to talk about their problems.”
The largest increase was in Yorkshire and the Humber, where the suicide rate increased by 21 per cent in 2011.
Nationally, a total of 6,045 suicides were recorded among people aged 15 and over, the ONS said, up 437 on the previous year.
The highest suicide rate was among men aged 30 to 44 at 23.5 deaths per 100,000.