September 10, 2014
by Eva-Maria Bonin and David McDaid
In England alone, there were 12,479 suicides and an estimated 121,634 non-fatal suicide attempts in the three years from 2006 to 2008. The costs of suicide to society are high, in both human and financial terms; on average, for the whole population, these are estimated at £1.45m (at 2009 prices), including intangible costs (loss of life to the individual and the pain and suffering of relatives) as well as lost output (both waged and unwaged) and police time.
Jumping from a height accounts for around 3% of completed suicides. Given high fatality rates of over 50%, the lifetime costs of completed and attempted suicides by jumping account for more than £176m per year.
In 2011 we were asked by the Department of Health to identify and analyse the costs and economic payoffs of a range of interventions in the area of mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention, and to present this information in a way that would most helpfully support NHS and other commissioners in assessing the case for investment. As part of this report, we looked at the case for bridge safety measures for suicide prevention.