THE suicide rate in Wales has risen by 30 per cent in two years, figures have revealed.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown the rate in Wales is higher than England and at its highest level since 2004.
The rate is up from 10.7 per 100,000 people in 2009 to 13.9 in 2011. The rate for England is 10.4 per 100,000.
Clwyd South AM Ken Skates has now called for the Welsh Government to commission specialist research into the rate in Wales.
Mr Skates, also the chairman of the Assembly’s All Party Group on Mental Health, said research could shape policies that could help excluded and marginalised groups at particular risk of suicide.
“We do have to treat statistics relating to suicide very carefully indeed,” he said, “The factors that cause someone to take their own life are complex and reading any concrete patterns into the figures is very difficult.
“However, it is concerning that the suicide rate in Wales has risen 30 per cent in two years.
“It had been feared the economic downturn would have a big impact on mental well-being in Wales and we need more research to examine this further.
“We need to look at the factors that are underpinning this increase and how policy in mental health can be shaped to help and support groups that are most likely to take their own life.
“One of the at risk groups appears to be middle aged men.
“On average, men from low socio-economic backgrounds living in deprived areas are 10 times more likely to die by suicide than men from high socio-economic backgrounds living in the most affluent areas.
“These are the sorts of issues that need now to be researched further.
“With a legacy of heavy industrial manufacturing that has gone into sharp decline over the last 30 years, maybe there are longer term factors, particular to Wales, that need to be explored.”
Some of the increase may be down to a change in the way deaths were recorded by coroners following new guidance, he said.
The Freephone Community Advice and Listening Line (CALL) numbers are 0800 132737 or 81066.
The Samaritans are available on 08457 909090.