York’s suicide problem in 8 charts – and what’s being done about it

York has a higher than average suicide rate. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr

Sixty people have taken their own life in York over the last five years, new figures reveal.

And the number of suicides in the city is significantly above the national and regional average.

An analysis, the City of York Suicide Audit (PDF), revealed that the number of suicides has shown a rising trend over the last ten years. It adds up to a huge human tragedy: an estimated 2,249 years of life were lost by suicide.

Now York’s Health and Wellbeing Board is to assess recommendations put forward to inform and improve suicide prevention work in the city.

Suicide devastates the lives of individuals, families and communities.

This audit and meeting will look at how we as a city can improve our suicide prevention work and better support our residents.

– Cllr Carol Runciman, executive member for health

A human problem analysed

The trend is upwards

Number of Suicides in York 2006-2015


And here’s a comparison between York, the wider region of Yorkshire And Humberside, and England as a whole.

In 2013-15 York had the highest suicide rate when compared to other local authority areas that have similar levels of deprivation.


Of the 60 people in the York sample, 50 (83%) were men and 10 (17%) were women. This is the same as the gender breakdown in the North Yorkshire audit which considered 227 deaths of which 83% were male.


The average age at death was 42.8 years overall (41.9 years for men and 47.4 years for women).

The most common age group for people to take their own lives (overall and for men only) was 45- 54. For women, the most common age group was among women aged between 25-34. In this, York is similar to the national average.

Marital status

Approximately three quarters of people in the York sample were either single, divorced or separated (44 out of 60 people, 73%).

Employment status

Employment status at the time of death is shown in the chart above. 26 people (43%) were in
employment at the time of death, 13 (22%) were unemployed and six (10%) were students.

Other findings

Whilst suicide affected people from a full range of backgrounds there was a higher proportion of death by suicide amongst people living in more deprived areas.

What happens now

West Offices, home to City of York Council
West Offices, home to City of York Council

York agencies do not know why the city has an above average rate of suicides. But they are looking to unite behind a new prevention plan and in doing so turning the city into a ‘suicide-safer community’.

The next step is for this to be discussed at York’s Health and Wellbeing Board meeting on November 23.

The board will assess recommendations that have been put forward following the five-year audit, which include:

  • developing a suicide prevention framework for York
  • undertaking a regular programme of suicide audits
  • developing ‘suicide surveillance’ and real time ‘early alert’ processes to improve the multi-agency response
  • providing more responsive support arrangements to those affected by suicide
  • ensuring that those people who are affected by suicide are able to have their views and experiences heard

Director of public health at York council Sharon Stoltz said: “Every suicide is a tragedy and City of York Council takes the issue of suicide and preventing deaths by suicide very seriously.

“This audit provides an opportunity to discuss suicide prevention and find areas where we as a city can improve the support available, which will feed into our suicide prevention plan, and I would like to thank officers and partners who supported this audit.”

If you are feeling suicidal

Please TALK
Tell someone what you are thinking and how you are feeling
Ask for their help, or seek help
Listen to their advice or advice from others
Know who to call in a crisis and keep the number with you at all times

Seek help or support with any problems

Ring 111 to access mental health services – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
Contact your GP. If you do not have a GP or do not know your GP’s number call 111
Phone the Samaritans 24 hour helpline on 116 123 for confidential non-judgmental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which may lead to suicide