Majority of Scots have direct experience of suicide

The Scottish Government consultation on draft proposals for a new Suicide Prevention Action Plan were published last month. As yet, we don't feel those proposals go nearly far enough.

To demonstrate why suicide prevention needs to be more of a priority, we commissioned research on the impact of suicide in Scotland. 

A recent survey of 1000 Scottish adults has shown that around 60% have had direct experience of suicide. Only 40% of those surveyed would know where to turn for help if they were supporting someone in crisis.* 

James Jopling, Executive Director for Samaritans in Scotland, said

‘While it’s still not something that we often openly talk about, the fact that over 60% of people we asked had experienced suicide shows the true impact of suicide in Scotland.  

We know many people don’t know where to turn when they or someone close to them are in distress, yet we’d all know where to go for a physical health issue. We’d also expect a swift, empathetic response. Unfortunately, we know that’s also not always the case. 

The Scottish Government have recently consulted on a draft suicide prevention action plan. This action plan is a vital opportunity to ensure people directly affected by suicide -and those who care for them- have access to timely, skilled and compassionate support. It’s an opportunity to ensure people affected by suicide in Scotland are not alone.

Unfortunately, we don’t feel the draft plan yet meets that aim. 

To ensure that we reduce these preventable deaths, we need to see meaningful national leadership for suicide prevention in Scotland. We also need to address the range of factors that increase a person’s risk of taking their own life, from inequality to social isolation. We therefore believe that the final action plan must take a cross portfolio, cross government approach.

The Scottish Government’s consultation on this closed just a few days ago, so are urging them and others with leadership roles right across health to take on board the views put forward and ensure the final plan is bold, funded and reflects the reality of suicide in Scotland.’

Findings also outline that:

The majority of Scots (73%) are not aware that around two people die by suicide each day in Scotland.

89% would support some sort of suicide prevention training for certain professionals.

Almost 40% of Scots wouldn’t know where to turn if they were supporting someone in crisis, yet 19% have supported a friend or family member through thoughts of suicide.

The majority (58%) are aware that suicide is the biggest killer of young people aged 25-34 in the UK.

The majority (58%) are aware that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK.

Almost 3 in 10 (29%) have either supported a friend/ close family member through feelings of suicide, or lost a friend/ close family member to suicide. 


Notes to editors

*Findings taken from a survey of Based on 1001 Scottish adults by YouGov commissioned by Samaritans Scotland carried out 12 - 16 April 2018. More information available on request.