Number of suicides in Northern Ireland at highest rate since 2015, new NISRA figures reveal

Suicide rates have reached their highest levels since 2015.
Suicide rates in Northern Ireland have reached their highest level since 2015.

The were 237 recorded deaths by suicide in Northern Ireland in 2021, new figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) have revealed.

The total is the highest since 2015 and represents an increase of 18 from the 219 suicide deaths registered in 2020.

The Nisra figures show that in 2021, 176 (74.3%) suicide deaths were males and 61 were females.

The suicide death rate for both males and females has been rising since 2019.

The rate for males increased from 19.1 per 100,000 males in 2019 to 21.5 in 2021, while for females, the equivalent rate increased from 6.0 per 100,000 females in 2019 to 7.3 in 2021.

Suicide deaths were highest for men between the ages of 25 and 29 and 45 and 49, while for women the highest number of suicide deaths were between the ages of 20 and 24.

Overall in 2021, one in every three suicide deaths was someone under the age of 30, according to the Nisra statistics.

Northern Ireland had an age-standardised rate of 14.3 suicides per 100,000 population in 2021, higher than the 14.0 suicides per 100,000 population for Scotland and 10.5 suicides per 100,000 in England and Wales.

Nisra said that cross-country comparisons will be affected by differences in data collection and collation processes used in the separate jurisdictions.

The Belfast Trust had the highest suicide rate at 17.9 deaths per 100,000 in 2021, followed by Western Trust (16.0 deaths per 100,000).

Northern Trust had the lowest suicide rate in 2021 at 10.4 deaths per 100,000.

Northern Ireland's most deprived areas had a suicide rate that was almost twice that of the least deprived areas in 2020 (19.7 deaths per 100,000 in the most deprived areas, 10.8 per 100,000 in the least deprived).

The official UK definition of suicide encompasses deaths due to external causes relating to intentional self-harm and of undetermined intent. It does not include deaths where the outcome was deemed accidental.

Responding to the figures, Northern Ireland's Mental Health Champion Professor Siobhan O'Neill tweeted: "We never forget that these are the real people, with loving families and friends who are devastated."

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