Published: 11 January 2024
This report contains sensitive content which refers to details on deaths by suspected suicide.
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The first report of Welsh Real Time Suspected Suicide Surveillance (RTSSS) has been published today by Public Health Wales.
RTSSS has been developed by Public Health Wales, Welsh Government, the Police Liaison Unit based in Welsh Government, the four Welsh Police forces, the national suicide and self-harm prevention programme based in the NHS Wales Executive and Swansea University, building on systems already established by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and British Transport Police across the UK. It aims to collect and analyse data in a timely way, in order to provide up to date intelligence for stakeholders on national and regional patterns to inform suicide prevention activity across Wales.
The data in the report are based on reports to Public Health Wales of deaths by suspected suicide, before a Coroner’s inquest has taken place. It is anticipated that the number of confirmed suicides as determined by a Coroner may be lower than that of suspected suicides, as the Coroner’s investigation may find a different cause.
The report covers the period 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023, and shows that there were 356 deaths by suspected suicide of Welsh residents during that time, giving a rate of 12.6 per 100,000 people. 78 per cent were male, and the age-specific rate was highest in males aged 35-44, followed by males aged 25-34.
Mid and West Wales had the highest regional rate of suspected suicide at 15.7 per 100,000 population, which was statistically significantly higher than the all-Wales rate at 12.6 per 100,000. The rates were also statistically significantly higher in the most deprived areas (13.9 per 100,000) than in the least deprived (9.5 per 100,000).
Dr Rosalind Reilly, Consultant in Public Health Medicine for Public Health Wales, said: “Every death by suspected suicide is an individual tragedy that has far reaching effects for families and wider communities.
“The aim of the RTSSS is to provide timely data in order for suicide prevention measures to be rapidly established where it is required. This first report provides us with useful data which will help stakeholders across Wales to work effectively to target action where it will have most impact.”
Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle said:
“The loss of someone to suicide devastates family, friends and whole communities. One life lost is always one too many. Preventing suicide is complex and no one organisation can tackle the issues in isolation and strengthening the data is a key element of helping us to understand the risk factors.
“The Welsh Real Time Suspected Suicide Surveillance will help us to better target preventative approaches across Wales and feed into the development of the new mental health and wellbeing strategy and a suicide and self-harm prevention strategy.”