SUICIDE rates in York have risen in the past year - and campaigners fear the coronavirus pandemic will have further impacts on residents' mental health.

Today marks World Suicide Prevention Day - an event to raise awareness of mental health resources and encourage anyone experiencing mental health to seek support.

Government figures show that in 2019 there were 23 deaths in York registered as suicide, a rise compared to 2018 when 18 deaths by suicide were registered and 20 in 2017.

Rowena Stephenson, a York mental health campaigner who lost her son to suicide, urged people to talk to someone if they are feeling desperate.

She said: "It's really disappointing that the suicide rates in 2019 have increased.

"The restrictions on normal life posed by Covid-19 will undoubtedly have had a further negative effect on people, and it's important for anyone who is struggling to reach out for support.

"I would encourage anyone who is feeling desperate to talk to someone - Samaritans, CALM, York Mind and Papyrus (specifically for younger people).

"The York SOBS group is continuing to meet virtually during the current restrictions, if anyone has been bereaved by suicide and would like to access support the website has information, a daily helpline and also has the links to contact the York group.

"For people worried about a family member or friend I would say that research has shown that specifically asking if someone is feeling suicidal will not encourage them to take their own life. There are really useful short training videos suitable for everyone at"

Samaritans says men aged 45 to 49 remain at the highest risk of suicide - and a spokesperson said: "With the impact of the pandemic this year taking a huge toll on people’s mental wellbeing, we should be even more concerned.”

Figures for 2020 - when the pandemic is expected to have had an impact on people's mental health - have not yet been published.

Andy Chapman, City of York Council's suicide prevention officer, said there has been a gradual reduction in the number of suicides in recent years - since 2013 when 30 were registered.

He said: "We believe that suicide is preventable if we create an environment where people feel able to ask for help and are supported in practical, helpful, compassionate ways.

"We will continue to work with partners across the city to increase awareness and understanding and to reduce the stigma associated with both suicide and mental ill-health."

If you are feeling suicidal or have concerns about someone you know, call Samaritans free any time from any phone on 116 123 or email or visit

Councillor Carol Runciman said: “City of York Council takes the issue of suicide prevention extremely seriously

"Every death by suicide is a tragedy and we are continuing to work closely with many of our partners from statutory and voluntary organisations across the city to prevent suicides as we work to become a suicide-safer community.

"Our work to reduce the number of suicides in the city started in 2016 and has seen the introduction of a suicide prevention officer, the now annual suicide prevention conferences to help promote suicide awareness and a prevention service.

"In 2018 we published the York Suicide Safer Community Strategy. This has enabled us to further develop our work with residents and partners across the city with the aim of ultimately preventing suicide. We have also introduced specialist support for the families, friends and communities who are affected.”