Calls for urgent action on prevention as Scottish suicide rate rises

Scottish charities and politicians call on the Scottish Government to take action to stop the increase in suicides  

There have been calls for urgent action after statistics show a sharp increase in the number of suicides in Scotland in 2016.

Figures released by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) show that 728 deaths have been attributed to suicide in the last year compared to 672 in 2015 – the highest number recorded since 2013.

Both charities and politicians are calling on the Scottish Government to take urgent action to stop the increase in suicides ahead of the publication of the new suicide prevention strategy next year.

Billy Watson, Scottish Association for mental Health (SAMH) chief executive said: “These new figures showing an increase in suicides in the last year warrant immediate action.

“Public awareness and community services are crucial to tackling suicide rates.” Billy Watson

“The Scottish Government is due to publish a new Suicide Prevention Strategy this year, and we’d urge them to bring these plans forward. The new strategy must be ambitious, but it also has to deliver on its promises.

“Public awareness and community services are crucial to tackling suicide rates. We need to ensure that support isn’t reduced at a time when suicide rates are rising and local services are experiencing cuts.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Any suicide is a profound tragedy and has a devastating impact on those left behind. An eight per cent increase in the number of suicides over the last year is exactly why we need a comprehensive new prevention strategy that provides vulnerable people and their friends and families with the support they need.”

Scottish Labour’s inequalities spokesperson, Monica Lennon said: “It’s very troubling to learn that deaths by suicide have increased in Scotland, with a particularly alarming rise among young men. Behind the statistics are individuals and families and we must learn from their experiences and personal tragedies.

“An eight percent increase in the number of suicides over the last year is exactly why we need a comprehensive new prevention strategy that provides vulnerable people and their friends and families with the support they need.” Alex Cole-Hamilton 

“This is the first increase in suicides since 2010 and needs to be addressed as part of a growing mental health crisis. The Scottish Government must reassure the public that it is taking the right action and respond to concerns over mental health waiting times, cuts to addiction recovery services and a lack of affordable housing.”

The figures revealed that almost three-quarters of those who died by suicide were men, with the remaining 211 deaths being women.  

The 45-54 age group was the largest age category for suicide deaths with 129 male cases and 49 female cases.

Mental health minister Maureen Watt said: "Any suicide is a tragedy and our sympathies go out to anyone who has lost a loved one in this, particularly painful way.

“Behind the statistics are individuals and families and we must learn from their experiences and personal tragedies.” Monica Lennon

"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 per cent over the last decade. This downward trend is encouraging and represents a strong achievement by all who work in the field of suicide prevention.”

The Scottish Government’s previous suicide prevention strategy ran from 2013 to December last year, with the Scottish Government consulting with stakeholders ahead of the new strategy’s publication next year.

"The longer term trend in Scotland shows a reduction of 17 per cent over the last decade. This downward trend is encouraging and represents a strong achievement by all who work in the field of suicide prevention.” Maureen Watt

Cole-Hamilton said that it was “shambolic” for the Scottish Government to take over a year to replace the previous suicide prevention strategy.

Cole-Hamilton added: “A new suicide strategy accompanied by the swift roll out of new mental health practitioners in A&E, GP surgeries, the police and prisons. The cost of inaction is devastating.”

Watt said: "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."

Picture courtesy of Quest Community Mail 

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