Scarborough has joint eighth highest rate of suicide in England, latest figures show

Between 2016 and 2018, Scarborough had the joint eighth highest rate of suicide in England, according to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics.

By Corinne Macdonald
Thursday, 19th September 2019, 9:12 am
File photo.
File photo.

The suicide rate – 15.6 per 100,000 – was the highest of any local authority in Yorkshire and the Humber, and the rate for men – 23.5 per 100,000 – was the twelfth highest in the country, and well above the English average of 17.2.

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The rate of female suicide was 8.1 per 100,000 which is above the English average of 4.7 and the highest in Yorkshire and the Humber.

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10 highest age-standardised suicide rates in England by local authority between 2016-2018. Graph: Flourish

In 2018, 21 people died by suicide in the local authority of Scarborough, an increase of 250 per cent from 2014 when the number of people was 6.

The new figures come after a House of Lords Select Committee earlier this year highlighter the prevalence of poor mental health in coastal communities.

In the Future of Seaside Towns report, the committee referenced a 2017 study which analysed NHS prescription data and found doctors in deprived coastal towns in the north and east of England were prescribing almost twice as many antidepressants as the rest of the country.

North Yorkshire County Council elaborated in the report saying: "Common mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, appear more prevalent in Scarborough compared with England.

"The national General Practice Patient Survey in 2016/17 found that 16.1% of adults in Scarborough reported they were moderately, severely or extremely anxious or depressed, compared with 13.7% in England.

"Applying this rate to the adult population in Scarborough suggests there are about 14,300 adults aged 18+ with anxiety or depression.

"If Scarborough had the England rate, there would be about 2,100 fewer adults with anxiety and depression.”

Dr Andrew Molodynski is the British Medical Association's consultants committee mental health lead. He said that underfunding has lead to patients being failed by reduced mental health services.

He added: "The rise in suicide rates in Scarborough is worrying with 21 people taking their own lives last year, while the area has one of the highest rates of suicide in England with 15.6 suicides per 100,000.

“The situation is, however, indicative of a worrying trend across the country.

“Last year England and Wales witnessed the first rise in suicide rates since 2013 and so it is vital now that the Government takes action at all levels – from policy makers in Westminster down to local authorities – to ensure this trend is reversed.

“After years of underfunding, patients are being failed by reduced services and longer waits for treatments, while mental health services are struggling to cope with rising demand.

“There must be a greater focus on improving public mental health with more investment for local services so that those in need in can access timely support at all stages of life.

“We have heard promises of improvement from health leaders for too long - it must now finally be time for kind words to become actions - parity of resources and care, not of esteem.”

However, Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has today announced new funding for crisis mental health services.

Dr Peter Billingham, the clinical lead for mental health for the CCGs in North Yorkshire, says investments are being made to try to narrow the gap between mental and physical health in Scarborough.

The new funding boost will provide people in Scarborough with additional crisis services and alternative places of safety and allow the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust – who provide mental health services across North Yorkshire – to maintain a specialist 24 hour telephone assessment and crisis support line as well as expanding the hours of Scarborough’s crisis cafe on Alma Square which opened in August 2018.

As well as investing in crisis services, Dr Billingham explained the care people get after a crisis moment is just as important and the CCG is focussing on prevention - to stop people from getting to the point they need help in an emergency.

He said: “The majority of people who take their own life are 45 plus, but problems start years before you end up there.

“Getting over the crisis is not the key thing, it’s the next day, the ongoing support.

“With physical health you don’t want to wait for the whole country to have heart attacks, you put them on cholesterol-reducing drugs, and with mental health it’s about predicting when people are going to need support.

“We know if we make follow-up services better, people are more likely to be in work and have a better quality of life. We need to put more resources into the team.”

Of the 21 people who died by suicide in 2018, he said: “That’s 21 families whose lives are never going to be the same again.

“The thing the CCG needs to look at is are any of those suicides preventable, each case is tragic and the impact on society and the families goes well beyond those 21 people.”

How to get help:

If you feel like you need help you can contact the following services:

• The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies service accepts self-referrals online at or 01947 899270.• Crisis resolution and intensive home treatment teams are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 01723 384645.• Scarborough Survivors, 9 Alma Square - Run a Resource Centre from 11.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Thursday and 11am to 1.30pm on Fridays, and a Crisis Cafe from 7.30pm to 1am Friday and Saturday and 8pm to 1am on Sundays.• North Yorkshire Mental Health Helpline - A confidential, anonymous and free to use service, 24 hours a days on 0333 0000 309.• Samaritans - You can talk to the Samaritans any time you like about whatever’s getting to you. You don’t have to be suicidal. 08457 90 90 90.• CALM - The Campaign Against Living Miserably has a helpline for men in the UK who need to talk or find information and support. The helpline is open from 5pm to midnight – 0800 585858.• In an emergency, always ring 999.