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Suicide statistics in Scotland

This is an overview of suicide rates* in Scotland only. For more information visit The Scottish Public Health Observatory  (external link) and the National Records for Scotland (NRS) (external link) for figures relating to deaths recorded as resulting from intentional self-harm, or deaths from events of undetermined intent**.

Annual changes are based on relatively small numbers, so may not be statistically significant. It is conventional to pool rates over a five-year period, and develop rolling averages to account for yearly fluctuations.

Headline Statistics***

  • There were 680 probable suicides registered in Scotland in 2017, compared to 728 in 2016. This data is based on the new coding rules*. The corresponding estimates based on the old coding rules are 664 suicides in 2017 and 697 in 2016. Since the implementation of the first [suicide prevention strategy] Choose Life National Strategy in 2002 a 20% reduction in the suicide rate in Scotland over the period 2002-06 to 2013-17 has been achieved**
  • The overall figures for males and females in 2017 were 522 and 158 respectively.  Based on old coding rules the overall figures were 511 and 153 respectively
  • This overall figure for females is the lowest it has been since 1982 (irrespective of old or new coding rules)
  • In 2017, the suicide rate for males was more than three times that for females
  • In the period 2013-17, the suicide rate was more than two-and-a-half times higher in the most deprived tenth of the population (decile) compared to the least deprived decile (21.9 deaths EASR per 100,000 population compared to 7.5)
  • While suicide rates are strongly related to deprivation level, this difference in inequality has decreased between 2003-07 and 2013-17
  • Scotland appears to have had a higher suicide rate than other UK countries since the early 1990s, though this comparison is affected by different data recording practices across the UK
  • The suicide rate in Scotland is similar to the rate in other European countries.

 Scottish Suicide Information Database Report

The overall purpose of ScotSID is to provide a central repository for information on all probable suicide deaths in Scotland, in order to support epidemiology, policy making and preventive activity.  The databse covers demographic information, contact with health services and related health data and will eventually (through inclusion from other data sources) provide further details relating to the suicide event and the wider social circumstances of the deceased.



* In 2011 the National Records of Scotland (NRS) changed its coding practice to take account of changes made by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to coding rules for certain causes of death. As a result there is a difference in how death data were coded for 2011 and 2012 compared to previous years data with some deaths previously coded under mental and behavioural disorders now being classed as 'self -poisoning of undetermined intent' and consequently as suicides. 

**Suicide data normally combines deaths classified as intentional self-harm with those of undetermined intent, as the majority of the latter are probable suicides. This prevents under-recording and provides a more accurate figure for international and geographical comparisons. The term 'suicide' is used to refer to deaths by intentional self-harm and undetermined intent combined.

***Suicide statistics are released annually by the National Records for Scotland (NRS). 

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