Suicide rates rise sharply in Scotland


Calls for the Scottish Government to adopt a wider approach to stem suicide increase  

2nd August 2017 by Robert Armour 7 Comments

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.”

2nd August 2017 by Marion Brown

The socio-economic factors are very important - but we are seeing another very prominent factor ... and that is that medications such as prescribed antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicines can have utterly devastating side-effects and withdrawal effects, which can directly result in people becoming very deeply suicidal. I work with people who call Samaritans in intolerable distress and desperation - and their doctors do not acknowledge that their prescribed medicines are a huge factor. Sometimes suicide seems the only way to end relentless and unendurable suffering and torture of mind and body. We have Scottish Parliament Public Petition currently under consideration PE01651 'Prescribed Drugs Associated with Dependence and Withdrawal'

2nd August 2017 by Fiona French

I wonder what role prescription drugs play in these statistics. We are regularly told how effective antidepressants are at preventing suicide. However, we rarely hear about the suicides caused by them and the dreadful impact withdrawal from such drugs can have on people's health. I have wanted to die many times over the past few years due to withdrawal symptoms from a benzodiazepine and SSRI. I meet others online who feel the same. In fact we have been left with such a poor quality of life that we question whether it is worth continuing with it. Our doctors cannot help us and neither can anyone else it would seem. Our calls for a helpline and specialist services simply fall on deaf ears both at Westminster and Holyrood. I can only imagine our numbers will continue to grow given the unfettered prescribing rates of antidepressants. I have spent 3.5 years in bed and have brain damage. My central nervous system is severely compromised making it unlikely I could cope with any future medical treatment. The NHS has no tests for such damage. We are cast aside as collateral damage.

3rd August 2017 by Marion Brown

The AntiDepaware website is very relevant - tracking the many cases where antidepressants appear to have had a part to play in suicides. This needs to be seriously explored in Scotland too - especially with the ever-rising prescribing of these (and other) powerful anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications. - some people have severe adverse reactions to anti-depresssants, developing psychosis and mania. I have seen people suffering from Akathisia which their doctors have not recognised: is further information about this on The Pill That Steals Lives website:

3rd August 2017 by Joanna Dennison

I'm another one directly suffering as a result of an SSRI antidepressant prescription initially given to help confidence issues at a new job. I'm extremely damaged and as a consequence I also struggle with loss of relationships and financial security. It is an extremely devastating condition and also very isolating. Looking back what was needed was a listening ear and holistic health advice to deal with stress not a chemical..there is much more value in empathy and human connect rather than to dish out a drug that the NHS state on their website "they don't know the exact mechanism of how it works" and then when it goes disasterously wrong your mind is so scrambled that you no longer fit into society and can't even feel any warmth connection to anyone or anything.

3rd August 2017 by Ann Kelly

I have called the Samaritans countless times as a direct consequence of being parked on mind altering antidepressant drugs for 20 years. Many a time I have been suicidal while a listening ear heard me speak of the pitiful existence of being trapped inside a head whose neurochemistry had been bastardised beyond recognition. My body and mind were torturing me from the inside and I was effectively a prisoner whose bars were unseen from the rest of the world. Its clear to me that the Samaritans are carrying the burden of mopping up the collateral damage from a pharma drenched society while healthcare professionals send their children to private school as a result of ''feeding from this trough'' of decent peoples misery

3rd August 2017 by Ann Kelly

The article above has stated that they receive calls about many issues... namely poverty, job security, addiction and fractured family lives.I want to put forward the idea, that these social problems are an iatrogenic consequence of mind altering drugs breaking down society from the inside. It is the drugs that are largely at the core of the problem. All of the above issues become prevalent once peoples minds are not their own.

3rd August 2017 by Alyne Duthie

Coming off an antidepressant and the intolerable withdrawal symptoms I experienced thereafter drove me to a suicide attempt in the summer of 2012. As the UK enthusiastically embraced the Olympics I contemplated taking my own life as everyday was an exercise in unending misery. I have a hazy recollection of making a call to the Samaritans at some point in time before that date. Unfortunately, the Samaritans are not best placed to help people like myself coming off prescribed psychotropic medication. I have since struggled with severe suicidal ideation and other unbearable symptoms as a result of tapering and withdrawing from other drugs like diazepam and the sleeping tablet Zolpidem. I have never felt so alone and so abandoned by the medical profession. As yet I have found no doctor or psychiatrist willing to accept this as a problem. I am part of a large community of people whose suffering is denied. I am now having to contend with the idea that my health is possibly permanently damaged by my long-term use of antidepressants. I have to ask how many more people have to be harmed and how many lives will be lost to this doctor induced pandemic before something is done?