A fine line

Suicides at lowest level since 1995

Suicides are at their lowest level since 1995, according to the Office For National Statistics.

The average is now 8.5 deaths per 100,000. This is down from 9.4 deaths per 100,000 in 1995. The government aims to reduce suicides to 7.3 deaths per 100,000 by 2011.

A new Department of Health guide has also been published which advises agencies on how to prevent suicides at local ‘hotspots’, such as railway bridges or cliffs

The guide provides advice on how to identify potential hotspots. It suggests measures, such as installing telephone helplines, to deter people who want to kill themselves.

In 2004, there was over 300 cases of suicide involving jumping from a height or people throwing themselves in front of vehicles.

The guidance offers suggestions to agencies, such as erecting physical barriers at well known ‘jump points’, and having ‘suicide patrols’ of volunteer or paid counsellors.

In 1998, the government introduced legislation to reduce the size of paracetamol and aspirin packs. This has been credited with a drop in suicides from overdoses of paracetamol or aspirin of nearly a quarter in three years.

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