Suicide and safety in mental health: UK patient and general population data 2011-2021

Reports | Published: 08 Feb 2024

The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health (NCISH) has published an annual report with findings relating to people aged 10 and above who died by suicide between 2011 and 2021 across all of the UK.

There were 69,420 suicides in the general population in the UK in that period, an average of 6,311 deaths per year. The rate of suicide decreased by 4% in 2020 and 2021, the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 2019. The decrease was particularly seen in men.

Other key findings relating to general population suicide numbers and rates include:

  • In England and Wales in 2018 there was a lowering of the standard of proof required for a suicide outcome at inquest – this is likely to have contributed to the recorded rise in suicide rates in 2018 and subsequent years. Rates have been lower in Northern Ireland since 2015 following a Review of Suicide Statistics subsequent to the identification of a classification issue in its suicide statistics.
  • There has been an overall rise in deaths by hanging/strangulation, although the number has fallen in 2020 and 2021. Deaths by self-poisoning also increased in 2018 but then fell in 2019-2021. There was no change in deaths by jumping/multiple injuries. Of the less common suicide methods, the number of deaths by cutting/stabbing has continued to increase since 2016.

This report also contains findings relating to: mental health patient suicides and acute mental health care; suicide by patients following one-off assessment; suicide by autistic people and/or patients with ADHD; suicide by in-patients aged under 25; suicide by students in England and Wales; and patients who died by suicide in public locations. It also shares findings on social and clinical characteristics.

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Suicide and safety in mental health: UK patient and general population data 2011-2021