London skyline featuring the capital's most prominent buildings.

Rise in London suicides as England rate highest in a quarter of a century

London saw a rise in suicides in 2023 while the suicide rate in England is the highest since 1999, new data has suggested.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recorded 566 deaths by suicide in London last year and 5,579 in England overall with both figures representing a rise compared to 2022. 

The 2023 figures are only provisional at this stage with a clearer picture available in the autumn when the figures will be finalised in the annual suicides bulletin. 

Lynette Charles, chair of mental health charity Mind in London, said: “We are all concerned by the news that suicide figures for 2023 show that there has been a rise in figures of 6%, the first substantial rise since 2018. 

“Even one suicide is one too many and we must do more to reverse this.”

London suicides increased by 5.6% with men making up 72% of suicide deaths in the capital last year, equating to an average of 11 people taking their life every week.

This comes as the charity City Bridge Foundation launched a £10 million ‘ground-breaking’ suicide prevention programme with the aim of making London a zero-suicide city. 

Charles welcomed the programme, and said: “This suicide prevention funding comes at a critical time to ensure that we work both strategically and locally to reverse this trend.”

Despite the rise, London had the lowest average suicide rate of any region in England in 2023 at 7.2 deaths per 100,000 people, while the highest rate was in the North West at 15 deaths per 100,000 people.

The more concerning rise can be seen in the suicide rate for England overall. 

The ONS registered 5,579 suicides in England in 2023 equating to a 6% rise on 2022. 

The rate of 11.1 suicide deaths per 100,000 people is the highest rate for a quarter of a century. 

For comparison, the highest suicide rate recorded by the ONS was 14.6 per 100,000 people in 1981. 

Responding to the figures, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) CEO, Simon Gunning, called it an ‘unprecedented national crisis’ and regarded the government’s attempts to address the issue as ‘unacceptable’.

Mubeen Bhutta, Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns at Samaritans, said the rise was ‘hugely concerning and demands attention’, urging more Government action on the issue. 

She said: “This means more investment in suicide prevention and introducing community support hubs for at risk groups such as middle-aged men so that they can get the support that works for them when they need it, before they reach crisis point.”

The rate of suicide amongst males was also at its highest rate since 2000 with males making up nearly three in four suicides in 2023, 74% of the total. 

The ONS data also indicates that the rate of female suicides is also rising and there was a rate of 5.7 per 100,000 people in 2023, the highest rate since 1995.

In terms of the most affected age groups, those aged between 35 and 59 made up nearly 50% of suicide deaths in 2023, 75% of which were male.

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 as well as young people aged between 16 and 24.

On the high rate of male suicides, Bhutta added: “Suicide is complex and rarely caused by one thing, but we do know that gender contributes to suicide risk with men being adversely affected. 

“The reasons behind this aren’t well understood, but a Samaritans study found that too often men are left feeling socially disconnected, struggling with suicidal thoughts for many years without any form of effective support.”

The City Bridge Foundation prevention programme has allocated £5.8 million out of the total £10 million to grassroots funding to help address this in London.

It aims to reach those most at risk, particularly middle-aged men experiencing deprivation and those at key points of change in their lives, ensuring they do slip through the net. 

The charity’s chairman, Giles Shilson, said: “As far as we’re aware, this is the only programme of its scale and breadth in the country, funding both suicide prevention projects and grassroots programmes.

“We hope it will have a significant impact in tackling societal issues that hinder suicide prevention and providing the early help people need before they reach crisis point.”

In March, the Department of Health and Social Care announced a £10 million suicide prevention scheme for 79 charities across England. 

Last September, the Government launched a five-year cross-sector suicide prevention strategy for England.

Although welcomed, some charities expressed concerns around the scheme’s scope as well as funding with a proportion already announced or due to run out.

This includes the £57 million investment as part of the NHS Long-Term Plan for suicide prevention and bereavement services in local areas of England which expired in March.

When life is difficult, Samaritans can help – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at [email protected], or visit to find your nearest branch.

Related Articles