A screenshot on Facebook comparing deaths from Covid-19 and from suicide has been shared nearly 40,000 times. The image comes from a post on Twitter from 9 September, which has also been very widely shared. The post claims that “more people died of suicide than covid in August”. This might be true or false, but it is certainly misleading, because we do not yet know how many people died from suicide that recently. When people die unexpectedly, it often takes a long time for the cause of death to be confirmed in an inquest.
The latest combined suicide figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for the whole UK cover 2018, when 6,507 suicides were registered. This suggests that there were about 542 deaths from suicide per month on average.
According to data from the Office for National Statistics, 531 people died in August with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate. We do not yet know how many of these are cases where Covid-19 was the underlying cause of death, but it was the vast majority in similar cases up to the end of June.
We can therefore say that in 2018, the most recent year we know about, on average slightly more people in the UK died from suicide each month than died from Covid-19 in August of 2020. However, we do not yet know how many deaths from suicide there were in August this year.
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