‘Devastating’ suicide rise after years of decline

Wednesday 26th June 2019

The number of suicides in Scotland rose significantly in 2018 after years of decline, NHS statistics reveal.

The Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) says the news, which comes after a 19% decrease in suicide rates since 2004, is “devastating”.

“Today’s figures show we must redouble our efforts as a nation to deepen our understanding of the causes of suicide, so we can help everyone who needs it. At SAMH we are committed to playing our part in this,” says Billy Watson, the organisation’s chief executive.

Clare Haughey, the Mental Health Minister, said the Scottish Government will commission research to establish the reasons for last year’s increase.

Statistics show 784 Scots died by suicide in 2018, compared to 680 in 2017. Around three times as many men died by suicide than women.  

And while suicide is still ‘strongly’ linked to deprivation, with the rate among the most deprived Scots around three times higher than their wealthier neighbours, this gap is decreasing.

Ms Haughey said: “Any suicide is a tragedy and my heartfelt condolences go out to the friends and families of those who have been affected by the loss of a loved one.

“An increase in deaths by suicide last year is concerning, and is sadly reflected in other parts of the world too.”

A national suicide prevention leadership group has been established by the Scottish Government to co-ordinate work across the country, while NHS boards are being asked to train more staff in suicide prevention.

Additionally, local councils and players and staff at every Scottish football club will be trained to spot the signs of poor mental health.

Ms Haughey continued: “We want to create a Scotland where suicide is preventable and where anyone contemplating suicide gets the support they need. Scotland is not alone in tackling suicide prevention and we will undertake more research to establish the under-lying reasons for the increase in 2018.

“Suicide prevention is everyone’s business and we will continue to do more in collaboration with the NHS, local authorities, the third sector and communities to save lives and reduce the rate of suicide by 20% by 2022.”