There were 5,755 adult suicides in the UK in 2003, the lowest number since 1973. Suicide rates for men, which were rising through the 1970s and 1980s, have decreased steadily since 1998. The rate for 2003, 18.1 deaths per 100,000 population, was the lowest since 1978.
Suicide rates for women, which fell steadily in the 1980s and early 1990s, have decreased only slightly since the mid-1990s. The rate for women remained around 5.8 deaths per 100,000 population in each of the years 2001 to 2003.
Suicide is much more for common for men than women. In 2003 men accounted for three-quarters of all suicides. This difference between the sexes widened in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1971 men accounted for slightly over half of all suicides (56 per cent).
Suicide rates by Government Office Region in England and Wales, 2000 to 2003
There were large differences in suicide rates for men across England and Wales in the period 2000-2003. The highest rates were in Wales, the North West and North East. The lowest rates were in the East of England, London and the South East. The regional pattern was less clear for women than for men, although rates were highest in the North West and lowest in the East of England.
Of the ten local authorities with the highest male suicide rates, six were in Wales, the North West and the North East. The highest rate for men was in Blackpool. At 39.1 deaths per 100,000 population this was over twice the average rate for England and Wales of 17.6.
The highest suicide rates for women in 2000-2003 were in Camden and Conwy at 13.8 and 13.6 deaths per 100,000 population respectively, around two and a half times the England and Wales rate of 5.5.
Source: Office for National Statistics
Notes: The rates presented are death rates per 100,000 population, for persons aged 15 and over, which have been age-standardised using the European Standard Population
Suicide has been defined as deaths due to intentional self-harm or injury undetermined whether accidentally or purposely inflicted. It is thought that most of these latter deaths are cases where the harm was self-inflicted but there was insufficient evidence to prove that the deceased deliberately intended to kill themselves.
Trends in suicide by method in England and Wales from 1979 to 2001 were published in an article in Health Statistics Quarterly 20 in 2003. This article also includes trends in age-specific suicide rates in England and Wales.