Study finds middle aged men most at risk of death by suicide

The overall suicide rate for Scotland has fallen significantly in the last ten years but there still remains areas of concern.

In 2015, 672 people took their own lives, a fall of three per cent compared to the previous year.

The findings of two reports have been published as part of continuing efforts to prevent suicide in Scotland.

The studies by the Information Services Division and the Scottish Public Health Observatory help Scotland’s policymakers, mental health services, local authorities and voluntary organisations to target people and places at risk and identify where to focus future prevention action.

While the number and rate of suicides fell for the fifth consecutive year, suicide risk is around three times higher for people who live in the poorest areas of Scotland, compared to people who live in the most affluent areas.

Two-thirds of people who die by suicide have a job. Employers and occupational health services should support good mental health in the workplace through initiatives such as Healthy Working Lives.

Some groups in the population have higher rates of death by suicide than others. The highest risk of death by suicide was among men aged 40-49 years. Almost three quarters of the people who died by suicide between 2009 and 2014 were men. Among women, those aged 40-54 had the highest risk of suicide.

A substantial proportion of people who die by suicide have not been in contact with specialist mental health services.

Professor Steve Platt, Emeritus Professor of Health Policy Research at Edinburgh University and Chairman of the Scottish Suicide Information Database Steering Group, said: “Despite considerable success in reducing suicide in Scotland in recent years, suicide deaths still occur disproportionately amongst people in certain groups such as men, the middle aged, those who do not have a partner, and those who live in areas of socio-economic disadvantage.

“Many of these deaths will have occurred among people with acute psychiatric needs but who are unknown to specialist mental health services.”