Figures show suicidal people reach out to health services before they die
Two thirds of Scots who died from suicide last year asked for help in the 12 months before they died.
Charity Samaritans says the horrifying findings show how Scottish health services are failing people at risk of suicide.
The Scottish Suicide Information Database (ScotSID) revealed over a quarter of those who went on to take their own life also attended hospital Accident and Emergency within just three months of their death.
Around 60% had at least one mental health drug prescription dispensed within 12 months of death.
James Jopling, executive director for Scotland at Samaritans said: "While a sizeable minority of those who take their own lives in Scotland are not in contact with healthcare services prior to death, this important report highlights that a large proportion have been.
“We fully support all efforts to make us all more aware of suicide risks amongst friends and family, but we must also ensure that those professionals that come into contact with people at risk of suicide have the right training and resources to identify, engage and effectively support them.
“We don’t want to miss any chance to change someone’s life."
Included in the report are details into the age, gender, marital status, employment status, occupations, levels of deprivation and other circumstances of the 5,119 people who took their own lives between 2009-2015.
Joplin added: "The report also tells us that of those who do attend A&E in the three months before they take their own life, nearly 40% die within just a week of their last visit.
“We welcome recent Scottish Government initiatives such as the Distress Brief Intervention programme designed to better meet the needs of people who are struggling, but this report suggests there is clearly much more we can do.”
Recently released statistics from National Records of Scotland also show that suicides in Scotland have risen for the first time in six years.
The suicide prevention charity says resourcing and equipping more professionals with suicide awareness and prevention skills needs to be addressed as part of the Scottish Government’s new suicide prevention action plan, due to be published early next year.
Steven Fegan, from Kilmarnock, reached out to Samaritans when he was crisis. “I had been feeling hopeless for a while, so I began to self-harm,” he said.
“Guilt sat in my mind. Every day I woke I felt weak and being a man you're supposed to be strong, because you’re meant to protect your loved ones.
"I didn't feel like a man because all I was doing was putting the people I loved through misery and stress.
"I just wanted the world to stop and I knew that since that wasn't going to happen the only way out was to end my life. This was the only option I could see."