Hundreds of suicide deaths registered in West Midlands – as Government launches plan to reduce deaths
Hundreds of suicide deaths were registered in West Midlands in 2022, new figures show.
Mental health charities warned preventable deaths would persist without significant investment.
New data from the Office for National Statistics shows 247 deaths from suicide were registered in West Midlands in 2022, the most recent year full figures are available.
This was up from 209 in 2021, with 237 registered in 2020.
There was a slight increase in the number of deaths registered as suicide across England and Wales in 2022, with the annual total rising from 5,583 to 5,642.
However, the rate per 100,000 people remained steady at 10.7.
Over the last three years of available data, the suicide rate in West Midlands stood at 9.3 deaths per 100,000 people.
This was a decrease on 2017-19 – the three-year period leading up to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – when it was 9.7.
The figures record deaths based on the year they were registered, but it can take months or even years for a suicide to be registered at an inquest.
In September, the Government published its five-year suicide prevention strategy.
It included a commitment to improve support for people who self-harm, and for those bereaved by suicide.
Plans to tackle harmful digital content about suicide and promote online safety are also a part of the strategy.
However, Julie Bentley, CEO of Samaritans said "a more ambitious approach to suicide prevention" was needed.Ms Bentley warned the strategy "will only take us so far without investment at both a national and local level".
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity SANE, welcomed the new strategy, saying over half of all calls to their helpline now mention suicide.
She said more than a third of suicides could be prevented if people were given help and treatment before they reached crisis point.
Ms Wallace added: "With psychiatric services in many places struggling to cope with demand, it is paramount that resources are made available to back up the plans set out in this strategy, so that professional support can be made available to those at risk of suicide."
Lourdes Colclough, head of suicide prevention at Rethink Mental Illness, said there was rarely one single trigger for suicide, but financial issues, social isolation, housing insecurity and problems at work, school, or home are among the common factors.
She added: "We can’t lose sight of the fact that suicide is preventable, and key to this is more work from the Government to tackle the drivers of mental ill-health."
A spokesperson for the Department for Health and Social Care said its new strategy includes more than 100 measures, with a focus on prevention and earlier intervention.
They added: "In August, the Government also launched a £10 million fund for the voluntary sector in England to carry out crucial work to prevent suicides and save lives.
"We’re also investing £2.3 billion extra a year into mental health services to help an additional two million people access NHS-funded mental health support by 2024."
Contact Samaritans for free at any time on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org.