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CALM PRESS RELEASE: A quarter of adults have considered suicide

News   •   Jul 16, 2012 00:00 BST

A quarter of adults have considered suicide

Suicide is biggest killer of young men in England and Wales[i]

30 percent of 25 to 34 year olds have thought about ending their life

53 percent of those who considered suicide did so fairly or very seriously

Gender should be at the heart of Government suicide-prevention policy says CALM, which is now expanding its service remit to cover all men

A new YouGov survey from CALM, the Campaign Against Living Miserably, published shortly before the Government is due to launch its new suicide prevention policy, has revealed the scale of suicidal contemplation in England and Wales with as many as one in four people (25 percent) expressing they have considered taking their own life.

CALM welcomes the Government’s commitment to reducing suicide, and the success of work to date in reducing young male suicide.  However, 1,110 suicides were completed in 2010 by those under the age of 34, of which 868 (78 percent) were men[ii].

CALM chief executive Jane Powell says: “Our research shows that thinking about suicide is more common than we realise, and that men and women are almost equally liable to feel suicidal.  What is significant is that more men actually go on to take their lives[iii].” 

Of those who have considered suicide, 53% state that they have thought about it fairly or very seriously, with women (28 percent) more likely to have suicidal thoughts than men (22 percent). However, statistics show that three times as many men as women take their own lives each year.[iv]

The Office for National Statistics figures show that 4,517 people took their lives in England and Wales in 2010 of whom a staggering 75.5 percent (3,411) were men.

Powell continues: “This survey debunks the myth that suicide is only caused by mental illness. Any of us can feel suicidal at some time in our life, but not everyone is able to seek help. What is striking is that even though women are more likely to consider suicide, men find it so much harder to seek help when they hit rock bottom. Gender is the biggest single factor in suicide, so any prevention policy must have gender at its heart.”

Amongst men, the age group most at risk are those aged 45 to 54 (53%). This reflects the fact that suicide rising amongst older men and has led to CALM reassessing its remit.

Number of suicides: by sex & age, England & Wales, 2001 to 2010 (ICD-10 codes X60-X84, Y10-Y34)

Age group2001200220032004200520062007200820092010
Males
15-341,2481,1711,1551,075987900934972951868
35-541,5031,5031,5011,5451,5521,5091,4441,5701,6481,527
55-74676648674681683730674717712760
75+266211250275259241244228242256
Females
15-34289313291297288247218265248242
35-54461453487495509450419453457470
55-74294279271323288302258266288284
75+154173167180136125115116129110

CALM, which has successfully focused on reducing suicide among young men since its launch in 1997, is now extending its remit so that it can expand its phone line services to include older men, reflecting the rising number of suicides in that generation.

Powell says: “Although young men will remain our core focus, an increasing number of older men have been calling the helpline and we are here to help them.  We know that they often simply have nowhere else to go and if they feel they can turn to us to talk about what is going on in their lives, especially as cuts and reductions in other services are hitting hard, then we will always be here for them.”

A key factor impacting the likelihood of suicidal thoughts is relationship status: 36% of respondents who had been separated or divorced had considered suicide, compared with lower rates for those married or in a civil partnership (22%), living as married (27%), widowed (23%) or never married (26%).

43 percent of those not working for a reason other than unemployment, education or retirement, also admit to thinking about suicide.  The number of children in the household also appears to have an impact with 33 percent of those in a household with three or more children expressing they had experienced suicidal thoughts compared to 25 percent in two children households and 23 percent in homes with just one child.

Notes for editors:

About the survey: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 917 adults from England and Wales. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd – 4th July 2012. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults in England and Wales (aged 16+).

About CALM: CALM began as a Department of Health pilot project in 1997 and was launched as a charity in 2006. It focuses on preventing suicide among young men aged up to 35. Suicide is the single biggest single killer of young men in the UK.

CALM promotes and delivers a free, confidential and anonymous helpline and website (www.thecalmzone.net); publishes the CALMzine, a bi-monthly magazine distributed through Topman stores, student Unions and various venues across London.  It is commissioned by Primary Care Trusts in London and on Merseyside. It is also a broader campaign that seeks to encourage emotional openness in men, and lobbies for change in wider mental health policy. Since CALM started operating on Merseyside the number of young male suicides dropped by 55% from 1999-2009 – more than the general decrease regionally and nationally by 20%.

Following a major consultation with supporters and key funders during June, CALM’s Board took the decision on 3/7/12 to expand its remit to cover all men in England and Wales.

Financial support for CALM has increased month on month over the past year, and has actually doubled in the last couple of months, reflecting a growing concern with depression and suicide among men.

CALM launched an ad campaign in London last year under the headline ‘The Silence Is Killing Us’. The campaign, created by agency BMB, featured high profile names including actors Ashley Walters and Kayvan Novak and rappers Scroobius Pip, Bashy and Killa Kella.

For further information visit www.thecalmzone.net.

[i] Source: Death Registrations Data, Office for National Statistics, England & Wales 2010, ICD-10 Code(s)X60-X84 &  Y10-Y34 (excluding pending verdicts), suicide and undetermined deaths  accounted for 868  deaths of men aged aged 15-34 vs  Land Transport Accidents, V01-V89 accounted for 608 deaths of men aged 15-34.

[ii] Source: Death Registrations Data, Office for National Statistics, England & Wales 2010, ICD-10 Code(s)X60-X84 &  Y10-Y34 (excluding pending verdicts), suicide and undetermined deaths  accounted for 868  deaths of men aged aged 15-34 and 242 women aged 15-34.

[iii] Death Registrations Data, Office for National Statistics, England & Wales, 2010, ICD-10 Code(s)X60-X84 &  Y10-Y34 (excluding pending verdicts),: there were 3411 male suicide and undetermined deaths over the age of 15, and 1106 female deaths.

[iv] Death Registrations Data, Office for National Statistics, England & Wales, 2010, ICD-10 Code(s)X60-X84 &  Y10-Y34 (excluding pending verdicts),: there were 3411 male suicide and undetermined deaths over the age of 15, and 1106 female deaths.

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