Increase in male suicides in Leeds

An increase in the number of men taking their own lives has led to a rise in the suicide rate in Leeds, new figures show.

The latest Leeds suicide audit, published today, and reveals men in the city are five times more likely to kill themselves than women.

This is in stark contrast to the national picture, in which men are three times more likely than women to commit suicide.

The new report shows there were 213 suicides in Leeds between 2011 and 2013, a rate of 9.5 deaths per 100,000 people. That is a slight increase from levels in the previous audit, which showed a suicide rate of 8.1 deaths per 100,000 people between 2008 and 2010.

Victoria Eaton, consultant in public health at Leeds City Council, said: “There are many myths about suicide which obscure the evidence that those most likely to kill themselves are middle aged men. The extra detail from the new audit makes clear that we can continue to target work and help professionals spot the need to intervene.”

The audit identified those at highest risk were white British men aged between 30 to 49, living alone, who are single, separated or divorced.

Work has been underway since the previous audit, including suicide prevention training for frontline council and health staff and support for work with men in areas of the city with higher rates of suicide.

Professor Alan White, founder and co-director of the Centre for Men’s Health at Leeds Beckett University, said: “There’s a range of factors which can undermine men’s sense of worth, such as facing employment difficulties; divorce and loss of contact with children; long term health conditions and these negative life events result in low resilience that can culminate in suicide. The better this is understood by people, the easier it is to intervene when someone may be facing these stresses.”

Coun Rebecca Charlwood, chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “Suicide prevention will continue to be a priority in the city and the wide network of individuals and organisations working together to support people affected, highlights the key work taking place in Leeds to create a city which is a healthier and better place to live.”

For support, contact Samaritans free on 116 123 or Leeds Suicide Bereavement Service on 0113 260 9328.

Details of services which can help are on a free poster available to download at www.leeds.gov.uk/docs/CrisisCard.pdf

Toby Rye.

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