Introduction Compared with the suicide rates in England (12.0/100 000 males, 3.7/100 000 females), Brighton and Hove (B&H) (population=250 000) has the 3rd highest rate in males (18.9/100 000) and the highest rate in females (10.2/100 000). We investigated long-term trends in suicide by age, sex, and method in B&H from 1901 to 2008.
Methods Age-standardised suicide rates (ASR) were calculated from 1901 to 2008. Information on suicides was obtained from the Reports of the Medical Officers/Directors of Public Health for B&H and the Office of National Statistics.
Results Suicide rates in B&H were consistently higher than the rates in England for most of the 20th Century. The male:female ratio fluctuated from 3:1 in the 1920s to 1:1 in 1960s to 2:1 in 2000s. The ASR (per 100 000) in males fluctuated from 31.2 in the 1920s to 16.3 in 1960s to 27.0 in 2000s, and from 11.0 in the 1920s to 16.5 in 1960s to 11.6 in 2000s in females. Coal gas inhalation was the most common method in both sexes (22% males, 41% females) in the 1920s. This was replaced by self-poisoning in 1960s (39% males, 57% females). In the 2000s, hanging became more common in males (37%), whereas self-poisoning remained the most common method in females (45%).
Conclusion The epidemiology of suicide in B&H has varied over the past 100 years. However, in contrast with the national decline in suicide rates, B&H rates have consistently remained high. These finding are discussed in light of information obtained from the local Public Health Reports/suicide audit.
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