Female suicide rates in Rotherham hit 18-year high

SUICIDE rates have reached an 18-year high among women in Rotherham, figures show.
Public health specialist Ruth Fletcher-Brown. 150769-8Public health specialist Ruth Fletcher-Brown. 150769-8
Public health specialist Ruth Fletcher-Brown. 150769-8

There were 8.52 deaths per 100,000 population in the three years to 2021, the latest date reveals.

The previous high this century was 8.42 for the period to 2017, but the newest figure is more than double the 3.85 for 2001 to 2003.

Cllr Taiba Yasseen, who chairs Rotherham Council’s health select commission, said: “The [figure for] 2019 to 2021 is the highest in 18 years. It’s shocking to even say that out loud.”

Meanwhile, the latest figure for men in Rotherham was 18.2 – down from a spike between 2013 and 2019 which took the number above 20.

Ruth Fletcher-Brown, public health specialist at RMBC, said: “Our male rates of suicide have come down. We are statistically nearer to the national average.

“A concern is the number of female deaths and in Rotherham we have seen that increase, and we are statistically worse.

“Looking at female deaths, there’s less national research out there. The focus has rightly been on men.

“But we know that the pandemic had a massive impact on women’s mental health. “Nationally, there’s been discussion around domestic abuse and suicide, where women have been under control and coercion by a perpetrator.”

Regional health leaders are set to explore more about the rise in female deaths at an event either later this year or early next, Ms Fletcher-Brown said.

Meanwhile, cabinet member Cllr David Roche, who chairs Rotherham’s health and wellbeing board, said a women’s health hub was in the pipeline in Rotherham, being led by the area’s integrated care partnership.

He added: “It’s so new that it’s not yet sorted out where it’s going to be, what services it’s going to have, etc, but certainly some of the work they ought to do is linked to what we are talking about now.”

Cllr Yasseen said she was shocked by the treatment of two women after overdoses in cases she was aware of from outside the borough.

“The response was very much parking why the women actually even attempted that,” she added. “The whole response was about the children. It just didn’t feel right.”

  • The council’s suicide awareness campaign can be found at be-the-one.co.uk. Samaritans can be called on 116123.