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The ONS figures on suicide rates for 2020 – a message from Simon, our CEO

“Today the Office for National Statistics released the figures on suicides in the UK for 2020. It showed that suicide rates have declined from 2019. While we, of course, welcome that decline, we’re also acutely aware that we must treat the latest figures with caution, and remain vigilant to the evolving mental health risks that have arisen over the last two years.

There are other mitigating factors too – including delays in death registrations due to the pandemic which will also be key in explaining the provisional drop. Most importantly, we must remember that despite this decline, the sad reality is 115 people still die by suicide in the UK every week – with 75% of those deaths being male. That’s far from ok. There’s a life behind every single one of those deaths, young or old – a person with friends, family and a community that will forever feel that loss.

The last year has presented us with so many unique challenges that will have far reaching implications on our mental health and wellbeing for years to come. Our helpline alone experienced record demand for calls and chats answered. That’s testament to the amazing work of our helpline team, but also a clear and urgent demonstration of how difficult things have been. And even as demand grows, we’ll continue to be there for people who need us, no matter what.

The effects of suicide are shattering. Research has found that every suicide directly affects 135 people – that’s friends, family, colleagues, and the communities in which we live. On top of that, when somebody is bereaved by suicide, they are themselves at greater risk of taking their own life. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Suicide is preventable – with the right support and an open and supportive society, everyone can feel there are reasons to go on. To stay.

While progress has been made in recent years to change the discourse and help people open up about how they feel, there’s still a long way to go in tackling the stigma surrounding suicide. The high rate of suicide amongst middle aged men over the past decade serves as a poignant reminder of why CALM will continue to lead a movement against suicide.

And, as we continue to feel the impact of the pandemic across all aspects of our lives, it’s vital that government, organisations and businesses stand together and ensure suicide prevention is a national priority. True societal change takes a movement that spans communities, classes, industries and politics.

We believe that we all have a part to play in uniting against suicide – whether that’s raising awareness, helping someone in need, or pushing for policy change. We need everyone to join us in our Campaign Against Living Miserably. Because when we’re united we’re stronger and we can do incredible things. We’re in this together. And we’ll do this together. Now, today and tomorrow – united against suicide.”

If you’re struggling, talk to CALM on 0800 58 58 58 or through our webchat. Our trained helpline staff are available from 5pm to midnight every day to provide practical support and advice. No matter who you are or what you’re going through, It’s free, anonymous and confidential.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article or in the comments below, are not those held by CALM or its Trustees unless stated, and liability cannot be accepted for such comments. We encourage friendly and constructive debate, but please don't share personal contact details when commenting and exercise caution when considering any advice offered by others. We don’t allow abusive, offensive or inappropriate comments or comments that could be interpreted as libellous, defamatory or commercial and we will remove these without warning as and when we find them.

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