SUICIDAL incidents have increased by more than 50 per cent since 2018, according to data from Avon and Somerset Police, Seven Standen writes.

Avon and Somerset Police's STORM (System for Tasking and Operational Resource Management) logs show phone calls where an individual was recorded as suicidal rose by 51.1 per cent from 2018 to 2022.

In 2022, the police in Avon and Somerset logged the highest number of suicidal calls — nearly 7000 in total — for the last four years.

The number of recorded incidents was up by 10.6 per cent compared to the previous year.

A spokesperson from North Somerset Council said: “Every suicide and suicide incident is a tragedy, which has a devastating impact on the people involved, their loved ones, and their community.”

Between 2019 and 2021, the suicide rate per 100,000 people was 8.7 in North Somerset.

The spokesperson added: “While this is just under the national average for England — which was 10.6 for the same period — one death by suicide is one too many.” 

Since the pandemic, there has been an increased number of deaths by suicide in England and Wales, with the rate being higher in 2021 than it was in 2005-2012 and 2016-2017.

Bristol had the highest numbers of suicidal incidences (3329) recorded by police in 2022, followed by Taunton (705) and Bath (455).

Avon and Somerset Police states high call rates could be due to these areas having "known suicide spots" or "repeat callers", who experience frequent suicidal ideation, living locally.

Bristol, where 48 per cent of suicidal incidents were recorded, is the 92nd most income-deprived area in England.

People living in deprived areas are at a higher risk of suicide.

There has been a nationwide decline of personal well-being in the UK across, with ratings remaining below pre-pandemic levels.

But, in Somerset West and Taunton, as well as Bath and North East Somerset, average ratings of personal happiness have declined dramatically over the last year.

Nick Higginson, CEO at Phoenix Health & Safety, said: “One in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England.”

Changes in behaviour, visible fatigue, and increased negativity are all warning signs that someone might be dealing with a mental health problem, according to Higginson.

He added: “It is important to remember that whilst these signs are not definitive proof of a mental health issue, they can be strong indicators that someone might be struggling.”

Encouraging people to talk about their feelings, seek treatment, or offering support can help someone who might be dealing with suicidal feelings.

The North Somerset Council spokesperson added: “We urge anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts to speak about how they’re feeling, whether that’s with a friend, family member, GP, or mental health charity or organisation.

“We work closely with our partners and charities to try and prevent suicide, and help people who are going through a mental health crisis and expressing suicidal ideation.”

North Somerset Council’s suicide prevention and self-harm action plan details what they’re currently doing to help people who are at risk of suicide.

This includes courses on suicide prevention, improving wellbeing, offering early intervention, supporting people in crisis and those affected by suicide.

All areas of the country have local suicide prevention plans and suicide bereavement services, supported by a £57 million investment through the NHS Long Term Plan.

Suicide-related phone calls being made to Avon and Somerset Constabulary doubling in four years reflects an increasing dependence on the police for mental health crises.

Independent Office for Police Conduct acting director-general Tom Whiting said: "Police chiefs have expressed understandable concern about the heavy demand placed on their resources in dealing with mental health incidents."

The IOPC says there is a 'clear over-reliance' on police services as first responders in dealing with vulnerable people in crisis.

Several people died after contact with Avon and Somerset Police last year, including one incident of suicide.

Nationwide, there was 52 apparent suicides (following police contact) in 2022.

“Police officers and staff are not the best people to deal with those in a mental health crisis,” says Deputy Chief Constable Nev Kemp, National Police Chiefs' Council lead for custody.

Kemp says the police are highly trained and committed, but they are not health care professionals.

The NHS advises contacting friends or family, a medical professional, or a specialist helpline.

Making a safety plan can be beneficial for people struggling with suicidal thoughts.

If you are affected by the issues mentioned, help is available:

You can call Mind In Somerset at 0800 138 1692 or 01823 276 892 for support. These helplines are active available 24 hours a day, every day. You can also visit

You can also text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258 for support over text.

North Somerset has a monthly peer support group for people who have been bereaved or affected by suicide.

More information about the help and support in North Somerset is available online:

For medical emergencies, including suicide, call 999 immediately.