Date: 06 Mar 2014

Demographic trends in suicide in the UK and Ireland 1980–2010

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Abstract

Background

Ireland has the 17th highest suicide rate in the EU and the 4th highest among 15–24-year-old males (WHO 2012). Suicide is the leading cause of death in this age group; death by hanging accounted for 69 % of suicides in 2010.

Methods

This study examines youth suicide rates from 1980 to 2010 in Ireland and compares them to the rates in Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. Irish data were obtained from the Central Statistics Office and their annual reports on Vital Statistics. Northern Irish data were obtained from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency website; Scottish data were from the General Register Office for Scotland and English/Welsh data from the Office for National Statistics website.

Results

There has been a threefold increase in young male suicide in Ireland over the past three decades (8.9–29.7 per 100,000). In contrast, there has been approximately a threefold reduction in deaths by road traffic accidents in young men in the same period (42.7–16.2 per 100,000). Suicide rates in young men are similar in Scotland and Northern Ireland for the same period but are 50 % lower in England and Wales. Despite the rates of hanging as a method of suicide increasing in all jurisdictions, the overall rate in England and Wales has continued to decline.

Conclusion

The suicide rate in Ireland remains very high and strategies to address this are urgently required. Our study indicates that national suicide prevention strategies can be effective.