Suicide among young women increasing at fastest rate ever recorded

·3 min read
depressed woman sitting head in hands in the dark bedroom
Suicides among young women are increasing at the fastest rate ever recorded. (Getty)

Suicides among young women are increasing at the fastest rate ever recorded.

The suicide rate in women and girls under 24 saw the biggest increase since records began in 1981 between 2020 and 2021.

The rate rose from 2.5 deaths to 3.6 deaths per 100,000 females, figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed.

The report added that rates among young females had been steadily increasing for several years.

A comparison between 2015 and 2021 showed a statistically significant increase for those aged 10 to 24 and 25 to 44 years.

Read more: How To Survive Suicidal Thoughts, From People Who Have Been There

Close up of doctor and  patient  sitting at the desk near the window in hospital
Suicide rates among young females have been steadily increasing for several years. (Getty)

The study showed the rate of registered suicides in England and Wales had risen to pre-pandemic levels following disruption and delays to coroners’ inquests during 2020.

The ONS said there were 5,583 suicides registered in 2021 – equivalent to a rate of 10.7 deaths per 100,000 people.

This is consistent with rates in 2018 and 2019, and is significantly higher than the 2020 rate of 10.0 deaths per 10,000 people.

Read more: Suicide attempts and self-harm ‘part and parcel of everyday life in a school’

James Tucker, head of analysis in the ONS’s health and life events division, said: “We saw a significant increase in the rate of deaths registered as suicide in 2021.

“This increase was the result of a lower number of suicides registered in 2020, due to the disruption to coroners’ inquests caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The 2021 suicide rate was similar to the pre-pandemic rates in 2018 and 2019.

“The latest available evidence also shows that suicide rates did not increase as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is contrary to some speculation at the time.”

Around three-quarters (4,129) of the suicides registered in 2021 involved males. (Getty)
Around three-quarters (4,129) of the suicides registered in 2021 involved males. (Getty)

The number of suicides dropped in the year the pandemic swept through the UK, which the ONS said was likely driven by a fall in male suicides and delays in death registrations.

Around three-quarters (4,129) of the suicides registered in 2021 involved males, which was consistent with long-term trends.

Men aged between 50 to 54 years had the highest rate (22.7 deaths per 100,000), while for women it was highest in those aged 45-49 (7.8 deaths per 100,000).

Women and girls aged between 10 and 24, and women aged 75 years and over, had the lowest suicide rate (3.6 deaths per 100,000 females).

Jacqui Morrissey, assistant director of research & influencing at Samaritans, added: “Females under 24 have shown the biggest increase in suicide since records began, which is particularly concerning given our research has shown that young people are likely to bear the brunt of the financial turmoil brought about by the pandemic, now made worse by the cost of living crisis.

“Samaritans wants to see a new national suicide prevention plan, led by the government, that will achieve the lowest national suicide rate in history – anything less will simply be accepting failure.”

If you are struggling to cope, call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI) or contact other sources of support, such as those listed on the NHS’s help for suicidal thoughts webpage.