Suicides among young women have reached their highest levels ever, shocking new figures have revealed.
A study from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed there has been a 13 per cent increase in suicides among females between the ages of 10 and 24 over the past 15 years.
The increase equated to 3.3 deaths by suicide per 100,000 females in 2018.
A total of 6,507 suicides were registered in the UK last year, the ONS said, up from 5,821 in 2017.
Three quarters of suicides are still carried out by men but rates among young females have risen rapidly.
Nick Stripe, Head of Health Analysis and Life Events at the ONS, said: “We saw a significant increase in the rate of deaths registered as suicide last year which has changed a trend of continuous decline since 2013.
“While the exact reasons for this are unknown, the latest data show that this was largely driven by an increase among men who have continued to be most at risk of dying by suicide.
“In recent years, there have also been increases in the rate among young adults, with females under 25 reaching the highest rate on record for their age group.”
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After the ONS study was released on Tuesday, campaigners warned more needs to be done to protect vulnerable young women in particular.
Simon Gunning, CEO of mental health charity the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), said: “We’re hugely concerned by the latest ONS report on suicide, which represents the first increase in the rate of suicide in the UK since 2013.
“We have seen commitments and improvements in recent years aimed at reducing the rate of suicide.
“While these have been positive steps, clearly it is not enough. We need greater prevention measures across the board, and we need that now.
The figures show the highest rate of suicide by age in 2018 was among 45 to 49-year-olds, a rate of 27.1 deaths per 100,000 males.
But the Samaritans said it was the rising rate of suicide in young people that represented a “particular concern”.
Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said: “It is extremely worrying that for the first time in five years, the suicide rate in the UK has increased, with 686 more deaths than in 2017.
“Every single one of these deaths is a tragedy that devastates families, friends and communities.
“A major concern for Samaritans is the increase in self-harm among young people over the last 15 years, particularly in young women.
“Self-harm is a strong risk factor for future suicide among young people. Research is urgently needed to understand this increase in self-harm so that effective support services and preventive measures can be developed.”