Professor Louis Appleby, professor of psychiatry at University of Manchester, leads the National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England. He told i the rise in young people is cause for concern because it’s following a different pattern to other age groups.
“Suicide rates are strongly linked to deprivation,” he says, “and it’s possible that young people experience this differently. We used to think it equated with unemployment but now economic adversity is more diverse: debts, job insecurity, in-work poverty, zero hours, lack of suitable housing.”
The increase in anxiety in young people for instance, isn’t because they are less resilient or more prone to it, but because there is a different set of drivers.
“What comes across is a more intangible deprivation,” he explains. “They are the most highly educated generation we’ve seen but they struggle to find stable jobs. They live in one of the richest countries in the world but can’t afford to rent a flat. Is this a society that treats people fairly, that has something to offer, a future I want to be part of, based on the right values? If enough young people feel the answer is no, there are some who are vulnerable for other reasons who will be put at risk.”
As for girls and young women specifically, one of his studies found many of the stresses facing teenagers before they died – exam stresses, bullying, bereavement – were more common in girls.