Calls for the Scottish Government to adopt a wider approach to stem suicide increase
Suicides in Scotland have risen for the first time in six years, according to figures released today.
Statistics from the National Records of Scotland show some 728 people’s lives were taken by suicide in 2016 - 56 more deaths compared to 2015.
Samaritans in Scotland said that action is urgently needed to avoid the rise becoming a trend.
The charity is calling on the Scottish Government to take a wider approach in tackling suicide ahead of a new prevention strategy next year.
Samaritans published a report on the link between socioeconomic disadvantage and suicide earlier this year.
Dying from Inequality noted that factors as diverse as welfare, housing and education could impact on a person’s risk of taking their own life.
Samaritans’ executive director for Scotland, James Jopling, said: “With suicide rates falling so consistently in recent years, this has to be seen as an early warning sign. While we know that rates can fluctuate year-on-year, what we desperately don’t want to see is this rise in deaths turning into a trend.
“We saw an 18% fall in the suicide rate during the time of the first strategy, at a time when rates were rising in other parts of the UK. We need a renewed commitment and bold action for deaths by suicide in Scotland to further decline.
We hear about mental health but also about poverty, job security, addiction and fractured family lives - Jo Ahern
“Suicide is preventable and 728 deaths is simply too much heartbreak for too many. With work now underway on the Scottish Government’s new suicide prevention strategy, it is more important than ever that we see Scotland return to being a world leader on suicide prevention."
Jopling added: “A truly cross-government approach is vital because suicide is not simply a mental health issue. Suicide prevention is an issue of poverty, housing, education and so much more.”
The suicide rate among the most deprived tenth of the population in Scotland is almost three times higher than that of the most affluent, with 21.3 per 100,000 dying by suicide in the most deprived areas, compared to 7.6 per 100,000 in the least.
Jo Ahern, director of Dundee Samaritans, said: “Every hour of every day, we receive calls from people in need. The difficulties and traumas that they are living with are varied and far-reaching.
“We hear about mental health, yes, but also about poverty, job security, addiction and fractured family lives and relationships.
“Whatever those who call us are facing, we’ll continue to be there.”
Maureen Watt, minister for mental health, said: “Any suicide is a tragedy and our sympathies go out to anyone who has lost a loved one in this particularly painful way.
“Suicide is a very complex phenomenon. The 2016 data follow a period of several years in which numbers of deaths by suicide fell year after year.
"The longer term trend in Scotland shows a reduction of 17% over the last decade.
"This downward trend is encouraging and represents a strong achievement by all who work in the field of suicide prevention.
“Later in 2017, the Scottish Government will engage with stakeholders with a view to developing a new suicide prevention action plan for publication in early 2018.”