The ONS have released the latest Statistical bulletin for alcohol-related deaths in the UK (2014). In 2014 there were 8,697 alcohol-related deaths in the UK, up from 8,416 in 2013. The small rise in recent years follows a period of stabilising then falling rates, which ended a period of steeply rising deaths after 1994.
Several media reports opted for stories of alcohol-related death rates 'rocketing' based on a 'near 60% rise over two decades'. Of course changing trends during this period, as well as significant regional, age and gender differences are evident. In particular, the recent rise looks mainly attributable to women in the 30-34 age range and older males.
A 2012 Lancet piece which predicted a longer term rise in alcohol-related deaths for the future may however prove to be right, though of course deaths of course only tell part of the story of alcohol-related harms, particularly when considering known time lags between consumption and alcohol-related diseases. Recent trends in consumption suggest a possible return to rising levels, though still rising alcohol-related hospital admissions may be harder to predict.
Last year's ONS release explored the 'alcohol harm paradox', exposing higher death rates amongst lower socio-economic groups despite drinking less. Back in 2014 ONS concerns over the 'NekNominate' social media drinking craze proved short lived, though not without a number of deaths.