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A Study of Suicide Rates in Northern Ireland 1984–2002

The Ulster Medical Society
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Annual figures collected by the Samaritans from the Registrar Generals' figures for suicides for the years 1984–2002 inclusive were analysed. Trends by gender, age group, marital status and method were examined. Suicide rates were standardised where appropriate. The mean annual rate was calculated for the 10 year period 1984–1993 and compared with the nine year period 1994–2002. The mean annual rate of suicide increased by 4.7%. Female suicide rates decreased by 17%, male suicides increased by 13.2%. The highest percentage increase was seen in males aged 25–34, (34%) followed by the 15–24 age group, (26.5%). There was a significant upward trend in suicide rates at p<0.01 in young males aged 10–34 and a significant fall in total suicide rates in those aged 35+. The greatest increase in the mean annual rate was seen in those of single status in sexes, males 24.2% and females 28.6%. There was a decrease in the mean annual rate for all methods of suicide except hanging with an increase of 99.37% in males and 87.80% in females. The overall rate of suicide in Northern Ireland appears to be rising. This trend is largely a result of the increase in suicides amongst young males aged 10–34. Violent methods of suicide, namely hanging have increased, suggesting that this more lethal method is contributing to the higher suicide rate.

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