SAMH Comment on new suicide figures

9th May 2018

New figures published today by Glasgow University show that 1 in 9 young adults report having attempted suicide and 1 in 6 report self-harm. 

The research, published by Glasgow University’s Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory, is the first of its kind in the UK to focus on the prevalence of suicide attempts and self-harm in young adults (18-34 year olds) in a large national study. This study is a collaboration between the Universities of Glasgow, Stirling, Leeds and Nottingham.

As a coping strategy self-harm can be life preserving, but it is a clear risk factor for suicide. Those who have self-harmed are 100 times more likely to die by suicide within a year*.

We believe more must be done to support young people who self-harm, and that the new Scottish Government Suicide Prevention Action Plan should prioritise this. SAMH is calling for:

  • Mandatory training in responding to self-harm for all frontline NHS staff.
  • Information and training for parents and key professional groups about self-harm.
  • Access to the full range of psychological therapies listed as effective for management of self-harm in the Scottish Government’s Psychological Therapy Matrix. 

SAMH Chief Executive Billy Watson said:

“These figures reinforce that more needs to be done for young people who are particularly at risk of suicide and self-harm.

“Young people face increasing societal pressures, and now more than ever before are seeking help for their mental health. 

“Scotland needs an ambitious and well-resourced Suicide Prevention Action Plan, so that when a young person is struggling, support is there when and where they need it.”

You can read SAMH’s response to the draft Suicide Prevention Action Plan consultation here

If you’re worried about someone, we have resources available here

Read our guide on understanding self-harm here

Samaritans is a 24-hour helpline offering emotional support for anyone feeling down, distressed or struggling to cope. Call them on 116 123 or email:

*Scottish Government Responding to Self-Harm in Scotland Final report 2011 [citing Self-Harm Scope Final version 3, NICE 2002]