The North East is the suicide capital of England as figures rise during Covid

By Mike Kelly

The North East had the highest suicide rate in England and Wales during 2020, a report has revealed.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed the number of such deaths in the region went up from 190 in 2019 to 211 in 2020, an 11% rise.

For the Tyne and Wear area - Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland - the total was 122, the largest ever number going back 20 years.

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The grim statistics show that in the region as a whole - including Tees Valley and Darlington - suicide accounted for 13.3 deaths per 100,000 population, above Yorkshire at 11.5 and the South West at 11.2. The lowest figure was in London at seven.

The figures were published in a report by the Office for National Statistics which also revealed that poisoning is the second most common method of suicide across the country.

This sparked concern from Paula Reece, a Counsellor at the UK Addiction Treatment Group whose own personal experience of attempted suicide was centered around years of drug abuse.

Paula said: "The rise in suicides across the North East is gut-wrenchingly sad. Every number in this report is a person from the North East community who believed that suicide was their only option.

"The fact that poisoning is the second most common method of suicide is particularly thought provoking as I've been there myself.

Paula Reece of the UK Addiction Treatment Group (UK Addiction Treatment Group)

"I attempted to end my own life multiple times with drug overdoses but eventually and thankfully I got the help I needed, all it took was a neighbour to show me judgement-free kindness. I didn't even know her and she saved me.

"It's true that as individuals, we can create hope through action.”

The biggest percentage increase in suicides from 2019 to 2020 was in Gateshead. However it went up from the relatively low figure of 12 to 23.

In Sunderland the figure went up 50% from 30 to 45 and in Newcastle it rose 30% from 23 to 30.

In North Tyneside the number of suicides actually fell year-on-year by eight, from 21 to 13, a 38% drop. In Northumberland there was a 35% fall, from 34 to 22.

However the number of suicides in 2020 across the North East could actually be even higher, as the ONS stated that there are likely to have been delays in registering suicide deaths due to the pandemic.

Paula said: "If you are reading this and you are struggling, you are not alone. Reach out, help is available and believe me when I say there is a world worth living in.”

Suicides by local authority area - 2019; 2020; %age -/+

County Durham: 60; 67; +11%

Northumberland: 34; 22; -35%

Gateshead: 12; 23; +92%

Newcastle: 23; 30; +30%

North Tyneside: 21; 13; -38%

South Tyneside: 10; 11; +10%

Sunderland: 30; 45; +50%

TOTAL: 190; 211; +11%

* UKAT offers a free 24/7 free live chat support service which can be found here

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