Early indications suggest that the number of people dying by suicide in the UK has not increased from last year.
Suicide rates in England have not risen since Covid was blocked, according to a new study.
According to early surveillance data, 121.3 suspected cases per month were recorded between April and October 2020, compared to 125.7 cases per month between January and March 2020.
Researchers from the University of Manchester found no significant difference when they compared the figures to similar months in 2019.
They analysed data from UK Real Time Surveillance (RTS) systems in areas with a total population of about 13 million.
The systems anonymously record suspected suicides as they occur, allowing for early detection of the numbers before the investigation.
According to the authors, these findings come on top of international evidence that the number of people dying by suicide has not increased as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and locations, although studies have found higher stress levels.
However, they pointed out that this use of the RTS is new, meaning that the results may change and more work needs to be done before it can provide an accurate national picture.
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Researchers have suggested that there may be a real effect of social cohesion during external crises, pointing out that suicide rates fell during the two world wars.
Research author Louis Appleby from the University of Manchester said: In the months since the crisis, the suicide rate in England has not risen, although we know from surveys and calls from charities that the pandemic has worsened mental health.
Let’s be clear: No suicide, high or low, up or down, is acceptable, and our conclusions at this time should be cautious, as these initial conclusions may change.
The work of a professor of psychiatry and director of the National Confidential Investigation of Suicide and Mental Health (NCISH) continued: There may still be differences between demographic groups or geographical areas.
Finally, the effect of Covid-19 itself was not the same for all communities.
However, the authors argued that it was still too early to assess some of the long-term effects of the pandemic, such as the current economic problems.
The author of the study, Nav Kapoor, professor of psychiatry and public health at the same university, added: How can we correct our conclusion that the suicide rate has not increased despite the increase in reports of distress?
Suicide is a complex process, and the number of suicides does not simply follow the level of mental illness.
During external crises, there can be a real effect on social cohesion – we have seen that in the suicide rate data at the time of the two world wars, the suicide rate fell, and there is a notion that societies unite when there is an external threat.
The study was published in the Lancet Regional Health – Europe.
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