Suicide rates in Scotland continue to decrease
Scottish Government initiatives have made positive progress
For the fifth consecutive year the number of suicides in Scotland has fallen, according to figures from The Scottish Public Health Observatory.
The number of Scots who took their own life in 2015 stood at 672 – a slight decrease from the previous year’s number of 696.
The number of suicides similarly stood at their lowest rate since 1983 and marked a 24.4% decrease over a five-year period.
There was also a continuing disparity between male and female rates of suicide, with men comprising 70.1% of suicide victims in 2015, a slight decrease from 71.4% during 2014.
The figures indicate that the Scottish government’s three-year Suicide Prevention Strategy, launched in 2013, is building on the positive progress made by the “Choose Life” strategy and action plan. Launched in 2002, the “Choose Life” campaign saw suicide rates fall by 18% in the eleven years that followed. The Scottish government have indicated that they will launch their next Suicide Prevention Strategy in late 2017 or early 2018.
Additionally, the data reveals that the Suicide Prevention Strategy’s goal of reducing suicide rates by 10% by 2020, in line with World Health Organisation targets, has already been met.
There has also been progress over the past decade in addressing the link between suicide and economic status. Whilst those in the poorest decimal of the population were approximately three times more likely to take their own lives than those in the richest decimal, this has decreased from a suicide rate approximately four times higher in 2005.
Despite the latest set of positive figures, Professor Rory O’Connor, the director of Glasgow University’s Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory and the former president of the International Academy of Suicide Research, has warned that more funding is required if further progress is to be made.
Speaking to MQ last year, Professor O’Connor stated: “The biggest challenge is always to secure funding for the research. There is precious little funding for mental health research and an even smaller slice of the funding pie goes to suicide research.
“There is still such a stigma surrounding suicide; suicide remains the Big S, with people reluctant to talk about it. Although there have been encouraging advances in terms of stigma reduction in recent decades, we still have a long way to go.
“There is still such a dearth of evidence in terms of what works to prevent suicide; there are so many gaps in our knowledge. We need to address these gaps as a matter of urgency. Suicide prevention should be a national priority.”
If you are considering self-harm or suicide, the Samaritans can be contacted free from any phone on 116 123 in the UK and Republic of Ireland. This service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.