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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 October 2006, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Suicide rate continues to fall
Man at window
Young men are particularly at risk of suicide
The number of people committing suicide has fallen to its lowest ever level, latest figures show.

The three year average for deaths from suicide is now 8.5 per 100,000, down from 9.4 deaths per 100,000 in 1995.

But more needs to be done to prevent suicides at local hotspots, such as railway bridges and cliffs, the government has advised.

In 2004, more than 300 people committed suicide by jumping from a height or in front of a vehicle.

The government published its National Suicide Strategy in 2002, pledging to cut suicide rates by a fifth by 2010, which would bring numbers down to just over seven deaths per 100,000.

We know that there are actions that can be taken to reduce the risk of suicide
Rosie Winterton, Health Minister

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show there has been a 7.4% drop in suicides since 1995.

In order to help meet the target for cutting suicides, the Department of Health has produced a report suggesting ways to cut deaths further.

The advice for local authorities includes erecting physical barriers at well known jump points, placing signs urging people to contact the Samaritans and installing telephone helplines in areas commonly used by people attempting to commit suicide.

Use of dedicated "suicide patrols" of volunteer or paid counsellors around hotspots should also be considered, the government said.

Legislation introduced in 1998 to reduce the size of paracetamol and aspirin packs has also helped to cut the suicide rate.

Prevention

Health Minister Rosie Winterton said: "Every death from suicide is preventable, a loss for society and a needless tragedy for the friends and family of the victim. We all have a role to play in tackling this.

"The latest figures on suicide show that the national rate continues to fall and is at its lowest level since records began. However, despite this news, we must work hard to ensure that this downward trend continues.

"We know that there are actions that can be taken to reduce the risk of suicide."

A spokesperson for the Samaritans said they welcomed the news that fewer people were choosing to take their own lives.

But added: "The latest figures we've seen also demonstrate that one person takes their life every 90 minutes, and we hope that continues to fall because it's still the second highest cause of accidental death in the UK after road traffic accidents."


SEE ALSO
Male suicide rate doubles in year
10 Oct 06 |  Merseyside
Depressed 'could get help to die'
20 Sep 06 |  UK Politics
Scots suicide rate highest in UK
30 Aug 06 |  Scotland

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