Britain 'desperately' needs to tackle rising suicide numbers, says Christian MP


Christian MP Nadine Dorries wants to see more done to help people spot the signs of suicide after latest figures showed an increase in the number of people taking their own lives.

Dorries, government minister for suicide prevention, said in The Times that she wanted people to be as familiar with the signs of suicide as they are with stroke. 

"In the same way we are now far more aware of how to identify when a person is having a stroke, I want to help people spot the warning signs ahead of a potential suicide, hopefully saving lives in the process," she said. 

"If we all knew what to look out for, how to intervene and signpost someone in need to vital, life-saving support, we could make a real difference."

Figures for 2018 released by the Office for National Statistics last week showed that suicides have reached their highest levels in Britain since 2002.

A total of 6,507 suicides were registered by coroners last year, up 11.8% on 2017 and reversing a continuous downward trend since 2013. 

While men accounted for three quarters of the total, the figures also showed that the number of women under the age of 25 taking their own lives is at its highest since 1988. 

The highest rates of suicide were to be found among 45- to 59-year-olds, although there were also significant increases in the number of 10- to 24-year-olds taking their lives, with 730 people in this age group killing themselves last year, the highest figure since 2000.

In terms of region, Scotland had the highest suicide rate in Britain, with 784 recorded last year. 

Dorries, who lost her cousin to suicide, said it was important that people feel confident to speak with those they may have concerns about, saying, "suicides are preventable."

"Whenever a change in suicide rates occurs, the reasons are complex and will seldom be due to one factor alone, but I am not complacent that this is a real concern we desperately need to tackle," she said. 

She continued: "If you notice a change in someone's behaviour, it may be a sign they are struggling to cope. If a person you know suddenly becomes anxious, irritable, talks negatively about themselves or starts acting recklessly, is tearful or doesn't want to do things they usually enjoy, these could all be signs they may not be OK.

"But suicide is complex and emotions may present themselves differently from individual to individual. The signs are not always visible. However, it's important that everyone feels confident in starting conversations with somebody they may be worried about." 

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the Samaritans helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 116 123.