The survey found that the rates of suicide were lower across the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Christian and Sikh groups, when compared with groups who reported following no religion
By: Pramod Thomas
MEMBERS of the Muslim community had the lowest rates of suicide in England and Wales in the past decade, latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed.
A survey published on Monday (6) also found that the rates of suicide were lower across the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Christian and Sikh groups, when compared with groups who reported following no religion.
Analysis of data from 2011 to 2021 showed that people who reported belonging to any religious group had lower rates of suicide, compared with those who reported no religion.
However, suicide rates were higher in Buddhists and ‘other’ religious groups.
Rates for death by suicide in the Muslim group during the period were 5.14 per 100,000 people for men and 2.15 per 100,000 people for women.
The rate of suicide for Buddhist men were 26.58 per 100,000 people and 8.88 per 100,000 people for women during the period.
The rates for people who classified as ‘other’ were 33.19 per 100,000 people for men and 13.66 per 100,000 people for women.
Religions included in the ‘other’ group included Pagan, Spiritualist, Mixed religion, Jain and Ravidassia.
Jacqui Morrissey, assistant director, policy, practice and influencing at Samaritans said: “These ONS figures are a stark reminder of just how many people can be affected by suicide, but some are at much higher risk than others. The sad fact is suicide rates in England are as high now as they were 20 years ago and saving lives can’t wait any longer.
“It is vital that the government’s promised suicide prevention strategy comes with proper funding in order to tackle the inequalities highlighted in these statistics – lives depend on it.”
The ONS data further said suicide rates were higher in men compared with women across all ages, with the highest rates in men aged 40 to 50 years.
Rates of suicide were highest in the white and mixed/multiple ethnic groups for both men and women.
Disabled people, who have never worked or are in long-term unemployment, or are single, had higher rates of dying by suicide than non-disabled people, the data revealed.
In England and Wales, estimated rates of suicide were higher in men were 19.75 per 100,000 people, compared with women at 6.45 per 100,000 people.
In women, the rates of suicide were highest in those aged 45 to 50 years, but remained lower than men across all age groups.
According to the ONS, suicide rates were highest in white men at 21.03 per 100,000 people and women at 6.79 per 100,000 people, and mixed/multiple ethnic groups, men at 23.56 per 100,000 people and 9.57 per 100,000 people for women.
Meanwhile, rates were lowest for the Arabs, men at 3.75 per 100,000 people and women at 2.54 per 100,000 people.
People who were in a partnership, which is either married or in a registered same-sex civil partnership, had the lowest rates of suicide, 12.85 per 100,000 people for men and 4.17 per 100,000 people for women, compared with people who described themselves as single, separated or partner deceased.
People who never worked and the long-term unemployed had the highest rates of suicide, 37.14 per 100,000 people for men and 12.01 per 100,000 people for women.
Meanwhile, those classified as having higher managerial, administrative, and professional occupations had the lowest rates of suicide, 12.63 per 100,000 people for men and 4.56 per 100,000 people for women.
“Religion and spirituality plays a major role in acts of suicide. In many religions such as Islam suicide is proscribed whereas among Hindus sati and jauhar were well recognised. Gender, age and religion play an important role,” said Dinesh Bhugra, emeritus professor of mental health and cultural diversity at the institute of psychiatry at King’s College London and past president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
“In many communities among south Asians rates vary. In communities where notion of shame is important people may commit suicide because they do not want to bring shame. In communities different methods will be used some more aggressive than others.”
The ONS data pointed out that rates of suicide were not found to vary much between regions for men or women.
For the study, the ONS used the 2011 census and death registration data linked by NHS number.
The final sample comprised 35,136,916 people who were aged 18 to 73 years on census day (March 27, 2011), and who were either alive at the end of study (December 31, 2021) or died between March 28, 2011 and the end of the study.