Scotland records 805 probable suicides in 2020, slightly down on previous year

Scotland recorded 805 deaths in 2020 which were likely to be suicides, a slight decrease from the previous year.

Annual figures from the National Records of Scotland showed the number of probable suicides decreased by 3% from 2019.

The suicide rate in Scotland’s most deprived areas is three times the rate in the least deprived areas.

A total of 71% of the deaths were male, though the number of female deaths increased by 3% from the previous year.

Suicides were highest among men aged between 35 and 39.

In 2020, the fifth most-deprived areas had a mortality rate for suicide of 22.5 deaths per 100,000 people.

In the fifth least-deprived areas, the rate stood at 7.5 per 100,000.

Responding to the statistics, Mental Wellbeing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “While the number of deaths by suicide have decreased slightly between 2019 and 2020, every one of these lives lost is a tragedy for families, friends and colleagues.

“The Scottish Government – and our partners working to prevent suicide – share the belief that no death by suicide should be inevitable, and we must put all our efforts into supporting anyone who feels this way.

“Our efforts to prevent people taking their own lives are especially important at a time when the impacts of the pandemic are putting significant additional strain on many people.”

He continued: “Recognising those impacts, we have increased our investment into mental health support and services available to people during the pandemic, supported by a £120 million Recovery and Renewal Fund.

“It is important that people know there is help available if they are feeling suicidal.

“Anyone in need of support should contact their GP or call the NHS 24 helpline.

“Support can also be found online, through NHS Inform, and on the Samaritans and Breathing Space websites.”

Rachel Cackett (pictured), executive director of Samaritans Scotland, said: “We know that the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted all our lives, creating new challenges for mental health and exacerbating existing risk factors for suicide.

“However, it is important to remember that there is no single reason why someone takes their own life and that a range of factors contribute to suicide risk.

“Deaths by suicide in Scotland had been rising since 2017, and so today’s data is a small but positive step.

“This data is a stark reminder of the impact of inequalities on mental health and suicide.

“The suicide rate in Scotland’s poorest areas is three times the rate in the least deprived areas.

“Scotland’s next suicide strategy must focus on reducing this gap, particularly as more people may experience economic hardship following the pandemic.”

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