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Previous analyses of adolescent suicides in England and Wales have focused on short time periods.
To investigate trends in suicide and accidental deaths in adolescents between 1972 and 2011.
Time trend analysis of rates of suicides and deaths from accidental poisoning and hanging in 10- to 19-year-olds by age, gender and deprivation. Rate ratios were estimated for 1982–1991, 1992–2001 and 2002–2011 with 1972–1981 as comparator.
Suicide rates have remained stable in 10- to 14-year-olds, with strong evidence for a reduction in accidental deaths. In males aged 15–19, suicide rates peaked in 2001 before declining. Suicide by hanging is the most common method of suicide. Rates were higher in males and in 15- to 19-year-olds living in more deprived areas.
Suicide rates in adolescents are at their lowest since the early 1970s with no clear evidence that changes in coroners' practices underlie this trend.