Skip to content


The toll of ‘Deaths of Despair’ in England

Find all our latest news, events, media and blogs.


To keep up to date follow the NIHR ARC-GM Twitter account @ARC_GM_

The toll of ‘Deaths of Despair’ in England

In 2015, a phenomenon coined as ‘Deaths of Despair’ (DoD) emerged in the US, highlighting an alarming increase in mortality due to drugs, alcohol, and suicides, particularly among white men without a college education.


In this Policy@Manchester blog, Christine Camacho (ARC-GM PhD Fellow) and Dr Luke Munford (ARC-GM Deputy Lead for Economic Sustainabilty) explore the spatial patterning of these deaths in England, where an estimated 46,200 lives were lost to Deaths of Despair between 2019 and 2021. They identified stark geographical inequalities.


The study emphasized that Deaths of Despair are not inevitable – but a consequence of inequitable resource distribution.


  • On average, areas in the North have considerably higher rates of DoD; areas with high unemployment rates, high proportions of White British ethnicity, and urban areas were associated with an elevated DoD risk.
  • Blackpool had the highest rate of DoD of any local authority, while the North East had the highest regional rate – the lowest rate of DoD was in London.
  • Preventative policies may require geographical tailoring – devolution policies may offer the potential to deliver locally tailored solutions.
  • However, national policies to redress imbalances in access to economic opportunities, the labour market, and housing are also needed.


You can access the full blog from the Policy@Manchester site here


Published 15th March 2024

Please complete the following form to download this item:

Once submitting your information you will be presented with a new 'Download' button to gain access to the resource.