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Friday, 21 August 2015

Suicide prevention professionals praised as Scottish rates fall

Written by The Editorial Team

The Scottish suicide rate reduced by 17.8 per cent between the periods 2000-2004 and 2010-2014, according to new figures published.

The statistics, published by ISD Scotland and National Record of Scotland, show that 696 people died by suicide in 2014, compared with 795 in 2013.

National Records of Scotland has recently changed the way suicides are recorded. Based on the old system, which is used for longer term comparisons, the number of suicides is the lowest since 1977.

Some of the measures taken to reduce suicide in Scotland have included:

  • Establishment of a Scottish Suicide Information Database, to record details of the circumstances of people who die by suicide, helping health professionals to better plan how to prevent it
  • Choose Life Co-ordinators recruited to the majority of Scottish local authorities, helping to co-ordinate, plan and direct suicide prevention work tailored to local needs
  • The establishment of a national leadership and co-ordination team
  • At least half of all NHS frontline workers trained in suicide prevention awareness by 2010
  • Awareness-raising campaigns encouraging people to seek help if they are feeling suicidal, and offering support and advice for people worried about someone in that position

The Scottish Government established a three year Suicide Prevention Strategy in 2013. This involves contributions from NHS Health Scotland’s National Programme for Suicide Prevention, the wider NHS, social work professionals, local authorities, the voluntary sector and the police.

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, said: “Any suicide is a tragedy, but the reduction of 17.8 per cent represents a particularly welcome development. This would not have been possible without the dedication of the professionals who work in this often challenging field.

“We know that suicide rates are strongly related to deprivation levels, I am pleased to see that this inequality has decreased in recent years.

“People who are considering taking their own lives often feel they have nowhere left to turn. We must continue to ensure that the right help and support is available to them. I would urge anyone experiencing depression to contact their GP for advice and support. Out of hours support is also available from NHS24 on 111, and from Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87. Samaritans can be contacted on 0845 7 90 90 90”

Alana Atkinson, Lead for the National Programme for Suicide Prevention at NHS Health Scotland said: “NHS Health Scotland has led the national programme for suicide prevention on behalf of the Scottish Government since 2008. We welcome the continuing declining trend in suicides in Scotland. As the lead agency responsible for reducing health inequalities in Scotland, we particularly welcome the evidence that between the period 2001-05 and 2010-14 the inequalities in suicide rates associated with deprivation have decreased in both absolute and relative terms for males, and in absolute terms for females.

“We are proud to be part of this work, by making direct contributions and supporting others at local and national levels in their work to reduce the number of people who died by suicide in Scotland. Every death by suicide is a tragedy. Health Scotland will continue to contribute to the momentum we have gathered in preventing deaths by suicide over the coming years of the new strategy.”