Samaritans Scotland urges action on suicide and inequality

Suicides in Scotland have fallen for the fifth year running. In 2015, 672 people took their own lives, a fall of three percent compared to the previous year.

Samaritans in Scotland is calling for a new approach to tackle suicide and deprivation, as figures out today show the rate of suicide was three times higher in the most deprived tenth of the population compared to the least deprived tenth (22.1 deaths per 100,000 population compared to 7.3). *

The figures released by the National Records of Scotland** show that there were 24 fewer deaths compared to 2014. However, inequality remains a significant issue with wide variations in suicides across Scotland.

The figures show an overall welcome continued downward trend in the numbers of people who take their own life in Scotland, with the figure decreasing for the fifth consecutive year.

Samaritans Executive Director for Scotland, James Jopling, said: “The loss of each one of these 672 lives is a uniquely deeply-felt and personal tragedy which will have had a devastating effect on families and communities right across Scotland. It’s clear however that some people are unequally bearing this burden.

“Despite success in bringing down suicide rates in Scotland over the past decade, the difference in the rates between the most and least deprived people in Scotland persists. It is simply not tolerable that the risk of a person taking their own life is substantially increased according to how disadvantaged they may be. Suicide is an unjust and avoidable difference in length of life that results from being less affluent. This demands our attention and further action.

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s continuing focus in addressing the rate of suicide in Scotland. I would however urge them to make tackling the link between deprivation and suicide a priority within this strategy. This can be done through refocusing the vital work that goes on at a local level, allowing us to target areas with high levels of deprivation as well as addressing inequality at a national level.  As today’s findings show, these efforts need to be redoubled if we are to move forward and challenge the inequalities we face in suicide and in society,” he said.

For further information, photos and interviews, please contact Susan Royal, Senior Press Officer at s.royal@samaritans.org or 0208 394 8348.  James Jopling is available for interview and is based in Edinburgh.

*ScotPHO

** http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/news/2016/scotlands-changing-population

 This is based on numbers not rates. Rates give a clearer picture of trends because they take into account the local population

Trends in suicide rates are best understood by looking over longer periods of time since this data will have natural year-on-year fluctuations, which may not be indicative of longer term trends.

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Notes to editors:

  • Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. We provide a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them. Please call 116 123 (this number is free to call and won’t show up on your phone bill), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org/branches to find details of the nearest branch.
  • Samaritans in Scotland received more than 300,000 calls for help every year, offering emotional support by phone, email, text and face to face in its 19 branches.  For more information please see samaritans.org
  • It’s the public’s kind donations and 1,000 trained volunteers that mean Samaritans in Scotland is always there for anyone struggling to cope. 

Find out how you can support us: http://www.samaritans.org/support-us