Review of Suicide Statistics in Northern Ireland

Date published: 26 May 2022



Review of Statistics


The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) and Coroner’s Service for Northern Ireland (CSNI) began a review into suicide deaths in 2020 following a notable fall in suicide numbers among registrations in 2019 (reported in June 2020) which had been subject to increased quality checks of source data compared with previous years. Investigations found that prior to 2019 the number of deaths of undetermined intent had been increasing. This was primarily driven by an increase in the number of drug-related deaths, but was also linked to the information on intent captured via the CSNI system and subsequently the coding of cause of death by NISRA. In short, there had not been enough detail available to allow reliable coding of intent. This meant that a number of cases between 2015 and 2018 were inaccurately coded as deaths of undetermined intent as opposed to accidental.  This review was later extended to include 2020 data as well as some non-drug related cases from 2015-2019.  Currently cases between 2015 and 2017 are not yet finalised due to some non drug-related cases still to be reviewed; these will be finalised and released later in 2022.

The main impact of the review is that the majority of cases previously coded as undetermined intent have been reviewed and established as accidental and recoded as such, which excludes them from the official suicide definition.

An explanation video is available, explaining the Review; reasons for the review, the outcome and what it means.

In addition to the outcome of the review itself, NISRA has released a set of tables giving a revised time series (2015-2020) of the number of suicide deaths in Northern Ireland.

The Quality Assurance of Administrative Data (QAAD) for Deaths Data in Northern Ireland provides further information on the collection, production and quality of the underlying mortality data on which suicide death statistics are based.

The user guide to suicide statistics in Northern Ireland has been created to assist users in understanding the data and to better interpret it.