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‘Heartbreaking statistics’ reveal suicide rate is rising in Scotland

Suicide is on the rise in Scotland - Image credit: Holyrood.

‘Heartbreaking statistics’ reveal suicide rate is rising in Scotland

The number of suicides in Scotland has risen to the highest level in five years, with suicides among those aged 15 to 24 increasing by 50 per cent in one-year, new figures from the NHS Information Services Division (ISD) reveal.

There was a 15 per cent increase in the number of suicides in Scotland between 2017 and 2018, rising from 680 to 784, the highest level since 2013. The number of men who died by suicide last year was 581, three times higher than women at 203.

The rate of young people taking their own lives is at a 10-year high, with 15.1 in every 100,000 Scots aged 15 to 24 dying by suicide. Between 2014 and 2018 the most deprived areas of Scotland recorded a suicide rate three times higher than least deprived areas.

Scottish Association for Mental Health chief executive Billy Watson said it was “devastating” that more people were dying by suicide in Scotland after a downward trend in recent years.

“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,” he said.

In August 2018 the Scottish Government released a new action plan, which aims to reduce suicides in Scotland by 20 per cent 2022. The plan set out 10 measures to reduce the suicide rate, including creating refreshed mental health and suicide prevention training by May this year for Scotland’s public and private sectors, and reviews of all deaths by suicide.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton said the figures were “startling and heartbreaking”.

“For the majority of the period covered by these statistics, there was no suicide strategy in place. This is symptomatic of a catastrophic failure in the Scottish Government’s response to a mental health crisis in this country,” Cole-Hamilton said.

“People must have access to consistent, reliable support as soon as they need it. Scottish Liberal Democrats would end the waits of up to two years for mental health treatment, putting new mental health workers in every GP surgery in the country.

“Vulnerable people have been completely and utterly let down by this government with the most horrendous consequences.”

Scottish Conservative mental health spokeswoman Annie Wells criticised the government for failing “abjectly to sort out a suicide strategy”.

“The Scottish Government may have spent more time talking about mental health in recent years, but these figures show that hasn’t been matched by action,” she said.

“We’ve gone backwards, and the hundreds of who took their own lives last year are a tragic testament to that. People with mental health problems are being forced to wait far too long for help, particularly young patients, and the consequence of this is now there for all to see.

“The SNP government has had sole control over mental health services for 12 years and has to take full responsibility for failing to address this issue.”

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