A LEADING doctor has called for action to halt the rising suicide rate in Doncaster.
The borough is bucking the national downward trend in the number of people taking their own lives, and unemployment is one of the factors linked to the increase, according to deputy director of public health Dr Rupert Suckling.
Middle-aged men who lose their jobs have now been identified as the group most at risk of taking their own lives.
Figures show that Doncaster’s suicide rate between 2008 and 2010 was 9.28 per 100,000 people, against 6.75 per 100,000 in England and Wales. The next highest rate in South Yorkshire was in Barnsley at 7.25 per 100,000 people.
The Joint Director of Public Health Annual Report for 2012 states: “Suicide rates are currently significantly higher in Doncaster, and there is some evidence that the rate might be increasing.
“Because the national rate shows a slight decline there is evidence of a widening gap between Doncaster and England and Wales.”
Dr Suckling said: “If you have long-standing mental health issues, alcohol addiction problems or long-standing physical health issues you can be more at risk, but what we are seeing with this increase that we have seen recently is these people won’t have had any mental health issues in the past, it’s just that combination of being unemployed, out of work and paying the bills - it’s enough to tip some people into taking their own lives.”
Middle-aged men, and in particular, middle-aged men who have lost their jobs, appear to make up the increase, he added.
Health organisations and others in the borough were working with groups identified as high suicide risks, such as people with mental health problems and offenders, added the doctor.
Nine other areas were identified for concerted action in the report – perinatal mortality, low weight births, too few mums breastfeeding, too many children living in relative poverty, obese children, road deaths and injuries, deaths due to liver or respiratory disease, and winter deaths.