Figures released today by the Office for National Statistics show that suicide rates, which had fallen consistently since 1981, have been climbing since 2007 and are now at their highest in over a decade. It is primarily male suicides which have increased.
The figures for 2013 give a total of 6,233 deaths by suicide, 252 more than in 2012.
Suicide rates appear to be highest in areas of high unemployment, with the north-east of England having the highest rate and London the lowest. Older males are now the most at risk, with 45-59 year olds having the highest rate.
The link between benefits issues and increased suicide risk is being highlighted by charities such as Mind.
Speaking to the Guardian, Tom Pollard, policy and campaigns manager at Mind, said:
“Pressurising people by threatening to stop their benefits causes a great deal of financial problems and emotional distress, with some people attempting to take their own lives as a result.”
“While the right type of employment can be beneficial to wellbeing, the support offered to those on mandatory back-to-work schemes such as the Work Programme is far too generic to effectively help people with mental health problems move towards employment. We need to see an overhaul of the system with more tailored specialised support and less focus on sanctioning.”