SAMH Comment on Suicide Prevention

8th September 2017

Two people die by suicide every day in Scotland. That’s 728 deaths in Scotland last year. For the first time in six years the number of people dying by suicide has risen so these new figures warrant immediate action and SAMH wants to see this change.

The Scottish Government was due to publish a new Suicide Prevention Strategy early this year, and we are yet to see this.   

Our long standing campaign, Two Too Many highlighted the devastating impact of suicide. Everyday SAMH works to prevent suicide and to support those affected.  

We have made good progress in tackling suicide over the last 10 years with the suicide rate in Scotland reducing by 13 per cent, however in the last year we’ve seen an 8 per cent rise. 

We must prioritise tackling suicide, or we risk going further backwards.

There’s still a gender divide when it comes to suicide, with men more than two-and-a-half times more likely than women to die by suicide. People in the most deprived areas are more than two-and-a-half times more likely to die by suicide than people in the least deprived areas. 

Earlier this year in our local government manifesto we asked councils to:

  • Demonstrate and account for suicide prevention and activities including providing adequate resources to Choose Life* coordinators.
  • Develop joint crisis arrangements and pathways with other stakeholders and statutory bodies – including emergency services; NHS and third sector care providers.
  • With health and social care integration boards commission peer support services to tackle health inequalities relating to men and suicide.

Billy Watson, Chief Executive for SAMH said:

“The increase in the number of deaths by suicide is concerning. Each person is someone’s family member, friend or colleague. We can’t get complacent. 

“Every day at SAMH we are working to prevent suicide and to support those affected. However more needs to be done.
“We would urge the Scottish Government to bring forward the Suicide Prevention Strategy. It needs to be ambitious and 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.”

*Local Choose Life coordinators have a vital role in implementing local suicide prevention action plans. We do not know the dedicated time or budget available to each local coordinator. Responses to recent SAMH Freedom of Information make clear not every council has a full time coordinator.

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: