Suicide rates in England have fallen to their lowest rate since records began 25 years ago.
Rates fell from 9.2 deaths per 100,000 people in the period 1995-7 to 8.56 deaths in 2002-4, the third annual report of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy shows.
The 6.6 per cent fall puts the government a third of the way towards meeting its target to reduce suicide by 20 per cent by 2010.
The number of mental health in-patient suicides fell from 215 in 1997 to 167 in 2003.
The number of prison suicides dropped 9 per cent from 2003-4 to 2004-5, but at 85 was still higher than the 73 recorded in 2000-1.
Paul Corry (pictured), Rethink’s director of campaigns and communication said suicide rates had gone down because the issue had been discussed more publicly, painkiller packaging had been changed and ligature points had been removed from mental health wards.
But he added that prison suicides had risen again since 2004-5 and more action had to be taken to keep people with severe mental health problems out of prison.