This morning the suicide statistics for the past year have been released and, on the whole, it’s good news. Suicide rates are at their lowest since 2011. There has been a 9.7% drop in the number of women dying by suicide, middle aged men are still at the highest risk of suicide and sadly Scotland has seen a 7% rise in the number of people dying by suicide in the past year.
It’s amazing to see the work of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England is having an effect with the rates of suicide falling overall – breaking the silence and stigma around suicide saves lives.
As ever the report highlights those at the highest risk of suicide; and this year it highlighted the role of divorce in male suicide with divorced men three times more likely to take their own lives that those in a relationship. It also noted that people among the most deprived 10% of society are more than twice as likely to die from suicide than the least deprived 10% of society.
It seems to me that these statistics provide a great challenge for our church communities; to ensure that those going through relationship breakdown are supported and not excluded from church family events and to be aware of the mental health of those struggling with poverty; perhaps those who visit our food banks or lunch clubs. Let’s not be afraid to talk about emotions in our churches and community projects.
Even one suicide is too many; because suicide is preventable. Let’s keep the conversation going; speaking of suicide and speaking of hope.