Blog | Suicide prevention is central to Scotland’s mental health

21st April 2021

In the latest entry to our campaign blog series, Liam Yule, our Suicide Prevention Manager explains why SAMH is calling on the next Scottish Government to put suicide prevention first.

Until recently the suicide rates in Scotland had been decreasing gradually year on year, but unfortunately over the last three years we’ve seen rates climb; with 680 deaths in 2017, 784 in 2018 and 833 in 2019. Each single number represents a human being who has taken their own life. The impact on family, friends, schools, workplaces and communities is far reaching, and often distressing.  

It is also deeply worrying that we have seen an increase in suicide rates amongst children and young people aged 15-24, with an increase of 15.9% in 2019, when compared to 2018. Dishearteningly, this is the highest it has been since 2007.

Over the last year we’ve all faced challenges, with the coronavirus pandemic changing the way we have all lived our lives. The Scottish Government's most recent Programme for Government quite rightly states that: "It has disrupted our everyday lives, our families, our communities and our economy. It has had a profound effect on our wellbeing as a nation.” 

Although we do not yet know the direct impact that coronavirus has had on suicide rates in Scotland, above all, we know that the mental health system was struggling even before the pandemic, and suicide rates were going in the wrong direction.

With the launch of our Scottish Parliament election campaign, Standing Up for Scotland’s  Mental Health, we have been thinking a great deal about the areas that require immediate attention and investment, and suicide prevention is one our three main priorities in our manifesto. During the next parliamentary term we want to see a building up of capacity in our communities to prevent suicide by providing nationwide access to support and suicide prevention training.

In all of this, what’s important to remember is that we can all play a part in reducing suicide in Scotland. We know that open and direct conversations about suicide can and does save lives. Reaching out to have a conversation with someone you haven’t spoken to for a while could have a positive impact for both you and them.

We must strive to continue having these conversations and importantly we must support communities, so they feel confident to have them.

SAMH has lots of useful resources that can help you understand more about suicide, how to look after yourself and  how start a conversation if you’re concerned about someone.  

To learn more about Standing Up for Scotland’s Mental Health, our calls for action on suicide prevention, and to join our campaign visit: