Samaritans Scotland has responded to today’s release of data from National Records of Scotland in its annual update on suicide statistics for 2021.
- 753 deaths by suicide were recorded (down from 805 last year and 833 in 2019 - it is the lowest level since 2017).
- People living in Scotland’s most deprived areas remain more than three times more likely to die by suicide than those living in the least deprived areas. At local council level, suicide rates were higher in Highland, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, and Glasgow City.
- There have been increases for particular groups including men 65-84 and people between 25-34.
- Most of the decrease in the past year can be attributed to a fall in female suicides, which decreased by 42 (18%).
Samaritans Scotland recently launched a new strategic plan to reduce lives lost to suicide. It believes the data shows a need for more resources to support suicide prevention in Scotland – and to act on those factors that may cause distress or which might contribute to someone being at risk of suicide.
Danielle Rowley, Samaritans Scotland’s Influencing Manager, said: “Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy and 753 deaths shows us there is still a huge amount of work to be done.
“While we welcome the overall downward trend, particularly a significant reduction among females, we must continue to take action on the range of factors that may contribute to suicide risk.
“Those living in Scotland’s most deprived areas remain three times more likely to die by suicide than those in more affluent areas, and men continue to account for most deaths. This data, and Samaritans’ own research, suggests reaching out to men from lower-income areas - who are at the highest risk of suicide - must be a major focus of preventing suicide in Scotland.
“Suicide is complex and there is no single reason why someone may take their own life. However, by ensuring there is a range of support available to those who are struggling - and working to address inequalities in our society - these numbers can be reduced further.
“We receive a call to Samaritans’ helpline every ten seconds. It reminds us why we continue not only to be there 24/7 for anyone who needs a listening ear, but also to make real and lasting change to achieve our vision for a Scotland where fewer lives are lost to, and devastated by, suicide."
Notes to Editors
1.) Samaritans’ research into the impacts of inequality on suicide is available here
2.) Please also consider our Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide in any coverage of these figures. Responsible media coverage can play a significant role in supporting good mental health by raising awareness of valuable sources of support and encouraging people to reach out for help. Alarmist reports can have the effect of normalising or exaggerating the prevalence of suicide. This is likely to increase people’s anxiety and sense of hopelessness and could normalise suicidal behaviour.
3.) Please apply caution when quoting statistics and be aware that suicide rates in a single year may deviate from an overall trend. It is best to look at timeframes of three or more years to identify significant patterns.
4.) Remind people that suicide is preventable by encouraging help-seeking and including sources of support, such as Samaritans. Whatever you’re going through, you can call Samaritans free any time on 116 123 or email: [email protected]