The national suicide rate is at its lowest level since records began, according to the third annual report of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy published today.

The report shows the most recent suicide rate (for the 3 years

2002/3/4) was 8.56 deaths per 100,000 population – a reduction of 6.6% from the 1997/8/9 figures.

One area where progress is reported to have been made is among the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community (LGBT). Research into the risk of suicide and self harm in the LGBT community seems to have resulted in a drop in suicide rates.

Projects targeting mental health promotion among young men in Camden, Manchester and Bedfordshire showed good results, and the phasing out of the drug co-proxomol may also have had an effect on the falling figures.

Health minister Rosie Winterton said that she was pleased with the results of the report, which was jointly produced by the Department of Health and the National Institute for Mental Health in England.

“Suicide is a major cause of preventable death in England and

elsewhere,” she said.

“The sustained decline in the suicide rate for young men is welcome.

This shows that our suicide prevention strategy is having a real impact

on the vulnerable people who most need help.”

National director for mental health Professor Louis Appleby said: “Whilst these figures are positive, we must work hard to ensure that

this downward trend continues. Changes in the suicide rate reflect the

mental health of the community and every action we take to improve mental health services will help reduce these numbers further. “