Today we have published an article, which shows that a generation of people born in the 1960s and 1970s, known as Generation X, are dying from suicide or drug poisoning in greater numbers than any other generation. Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for England and Wales have shown that in the late 1980s to early 1990s, more people aged in their 20s died by taking their own lives, or drug poisoning, than any other age group.

Since that time, deaths from these two causes have continued to affect the same generation more than others. This means that those aged in their 40s and 50s are now most likely to die from these causes.

The article also shows how rates of suicide or drug poisoning, by single year of age, differ among those living in the most- and least-deprived local areas in England.

Ben Humberstone, ONS Deputy Director for Health and Life Events, said:

“Since the late 1980s to early 1990s, we’ve seen that those who are part of the so-called ‘Generation X’ have been consistently more likely to die by either suicide or drug poisoning than any other generation. “The reasons behind these deaths are complex, but our most recent data suggest that those currently living in the most deprived communities are at the highest risk.

“As an organisation we want to mobilise the power of data to help Britain make better decisions and improve lives. Through this kind of analysis of published data we hope to provide new insights which can help inform policy-makers who are working to help reduce the risks for these vulnerable groups.”

The most recent data in this article refer to information for 2017. The new data for drug poisoning deaths in England and Wales 2018 will be published on Thursday (15 August). Data for Suicide deaths in the UK for 2018 is due to be published next month.

Information for the media

If you are a journalist covering a suicide-related issue, please consider following the Samaritans’ media guidelines on the reporting of suicide, due to the potentially damaging consequences of irresponsible reporting. In particular, the guidelines advise on terminology and include links to sources of support for anyone affected by the themes in the article, such as Samaritans.

Where to go for help

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans free on 116 123 (UK and Ireland), email, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of the nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Media contacts:

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