Statistics released today show 680 people took their own lives in Scotland last year, which represents a fall of 48 from 728 deaths in 2016. The suicide rate has fallen from 13.6 (per 100,000) to 12.8
Samaritans Scotland has cautiously welcomed the decline in the suicide numbers in Scotland. This appears to be driven by decrease in female suicide rate, however, the rate in males has slightly increased.
Middle aged men remain at greatest risk, with the highest rate of suicide in Scotland for men aged 45-54, increasing for a second year. Also, for the third consecutive year, suicide in young males aged 15-24 has increased, which the charity says is very concerning.
Recent research estimates that for every suicide as many as 135 people knew the individual who took their own life. In Scotland, approximately 92,000 people were impacted by suicide in the last year alone.
The release of these statistics follows a Scottish Parliamentary Committee inquiry this month, where MSPs heard that Scotland was lagging behind other UK nations on suicide prevention. There were also calls from witnesses, including Samaritans Scotland, for dedicated funding to be attached Scottish Government’s new Suicide Prevention Action Plan. Just this month, the Scottish Government announced a £3 million fund to support the plan over the next three years and a new suicide prevention leadership group for Scotland.
Suicide is a leading cause of death for young people, killing more people under the age of 29 in Scotland than all cancers combined. Despite the numbers of those affected, a YouGov survey carried out for Samaritans this year showed that that 4 in 10 (39%) of Scottish adults would not know where to turn if they were supporting someone in crisis.
Nicola Saunders founded her own support group, Living Warriors, following her own experiences with crisis support.
Nicola said: “From my own experience, I know there’s not much out there in terms of crisis support. I don’t think anyone can really understand what that’s like. There should be support immediately and it should be ongoing, but I felt that I was just thrown back into the world after treatment.”
“It was really disorientating and that’s why I set up my support group. It can take a lot for someone to open up, but they need to have support when they do. And people seeing that others have got through it, have recovered, it gives them hope. So, it’s so important that we make sure there’s a better structure in place.”
Samaritans’ Executive Director for Scotland, James Jopling, said: “While we welcome any decrease in the number of suicides in Scotland, we are concerned that the rate amongst younger and middle-aged men continues to increase. This highlights the challenge of addressing the connection between men and suicide. It is also still the case that too many of us would not know where to turn if someone we loved was in crisis and we know that often the support is not there if even if we did. This needs to change.”
“We welcome today’s appointment of Clare Haughey MSP as the Minister for Mental Health, especially given her professional background in this area. Our hope is she will publish the new Suicide Prevention Action Plan as soon as possible and that can be the start of us working towards the number of deaths by suicide declining. Collectively, we must work hard to ensure that no one affected by suicide in Scotland is alone.”
For further information, photos and interviews, please contact [email protected] or 0131 556 7058.
Notes to editors:
- National Records of Scotland: Probable suicides: https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/vital-events/deaths/suicides/list-of-tables-and-chart
- Cerel et al. (2018) How Many People Are Exposed to Suicide? Not Six. In: Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. Available: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/sltb.12450
- YouGov survey of 1001 adults Scots carried out on behalf of Samaritans, March 2018.
- Anyone can contact Samaritans for FREE any time from any phone on 116 123. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email [email protected] or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.