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Stark warning as data shows suicide in Scotland rising


Men still most likely to take their own lives

Urgent action is needed after data published today shows deaths by suicide increased by 6% in 2019 compared to the previous year.  

Samaritans Scotland said 833 deaths by suicide were registered in Scotland, an increase from 784 in 2018.

Of these deaths, 620 were among men, and 213 were among women. The overall suicide rate across Scotland increased to 15.5 deaths per 100,000 in 2019, compared to 14.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2018 - the highest rate since 2013.

While suicide rates for both men and women peak among those aged 45-54, the rate among young people aged 14-25 increased for the second consecutive year.

The lifesaving charity said the figures were a powerful reminder of the urgent need to maintain momentum in national and local work to improve suicide prevention support for those in crisis.

Rachel Cackett, executive director of Samaritans Scotland, said: “Every single one of the 833 deaths by suicide in 2019 represents a devastating loss with far-reaching consequences for family, friends and communities.

“It’s particularly concerning to see rates of suicide increase for almost all age groups and for rates among young people under 25 continuing to rise this year. And, as in previous years, people living in the most deprived communities in Scotland continue to be around three times more likely to take their own life, compared to those living in the wealthiest communities.”

The National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group has re-doubled its efforts to strengthen suicide prevention, particularly in light of the coronavirus pandemic, but it is clear there is still so much more to do, said Cackett.

“The current Suicide Prevention Action Plan will conclude in 2021 and the Scottish Government and COSLA have already committed to developing a new strategy. Building on work to date, this new strategy must practically address improvements in support for people experiencing suicidal crisis, as well as the underlying causes and inequities of suicide in communities across Scotland.”

Over the last five years in Scotland, 3,697 people took their own life. The average suicide rate for the last five years was 13.9 deaths per 100,000.   

Samaritans provides free anonymous and confidential emotional support for people experiencing crisis and distress, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can contact Samaritans by phone on 116 123, by email or visit to find your nearest branch. 



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Mary MacCallum Sullivan
5 months ago

'Over the last five years in Scotland, 3,697 people took their own life'. That is such an indictment on the whole structure of our current society, which is, this statistic demonstrates, simply not constructed around the human or humane needs of people. 'Mental health' is not the problem; the basic assumptions of our whole world-view are flawed, directed by considerations other than human well-being, whatever the rhetoric. The climate emergency that we face is further evidence of the wrong direction in which we hurtle, seemingly blind to any possible alternative strategies. For a start, we all need access to people to whom we could have a frank, private conversation - people without a vested interest in the current system, people trained and educated in the trials and tribulations of our human existence, poised as we are between our animal and our spiritual (?) sense of ourselves. This used to be the priest or the minister, but most of us have left the comforts and certainties of religion far behind. Counsellors and psychotherapists spend years in training, but are not considered true 'mental health professionals', because they are not seen as signing up to what is currently understood as 'evidence-based practice'. This phrase has been widely debunked, as being unscientific and as excluding the human interpersonal response. Rather than resort to a people-based response, the Scottish Government espouses computer programmes - CCBT (Computer-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) - a seemingly cheaper option, and less trouble to 'deliver'. It is high time we found our humanity again, and asked our government to think again, this time in favour of facilitating a straightforwardly humane approach - people talking to people.