Figures reveal Suffolk suicide toll during 2020

Suzy Clifford, from Bury St Edmunds, is the founder of Hope After Suicide Loss Picture: GREGG BROWN

Suzy Clifford, founder of Hope After Suicide Loss

Registered suicides increased in Suffolk last year, despite falling across the country during the coronavirus pandemic, figures have revealed.

A total of 81 suicides were registered in the county during 2020, compared to 60 in 2019 – the most since Office for National Statistics local authority records began in 2001.

Due to the length of time it takes to hold an inquest, about half of the deaths would have taken place in the previous year, statisticians said. 

Meanwhile, in July 2018, the standard of proof used by coroners to determine whether a death was caused by suicide was lowered from beyond all reasonable doubt to the 'civil standard' on the balance of probabilities.

The suicide rate in Suffolk reached 10.4 per 100,000 people between 2018 and 2020 – the highest since 2009/11 and equal to the national average across England, where the total number of registrations fell by almost 8% from 5,316 to 4,912.

Suzy Clifford, service manager and founder of Suffolk based support service Hope After Suicide Loss, said the reasons for any change in suicide rates were complex and rarely caused by one factor alone.

"The steps leading to suicide are very complex," she added.

Most Read

"Sometimes, we can be too academic. There needs to be a balance. I think we should always look at mental ill health with love.

"At Hope, we try to encourage people to think that their loved one, at that moment, believed they had no other option, but that they were wrong.

"We all become forensic detectives, trying to find every clue; trying to make sense of the senseless.

"For some, there will be great expectations from an inquest, while others will feel it won't change what happened.

"It's about offering the right service. We need GPs to be better trained to be able to assess someone bereaved by suicide.

"Hope's people have been profoundly affected. Some can take a year or more before they're ready to process their feelings, so we can't be prescriptive, and it can't be a matter of box-ticking." 

If you are struggling to cope, call Samaritans for free, day or night, 365 days a year, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter