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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 784 probable suicides registered in Scotland in 2018, compared to 680 in 2017. This data is based on the new coding rules*
  • The overall figures for males and females in 2018 were 581 and 203 respectively
  • In 2018, the suicide rate for males was three times that for females
  • The highest rate of suicide occurs in the 35 – 44 age group for males and the 45 – 54 age group for females 
  • There is a known link between deprivation and suicide and between 2014 and 2018 the probable suicide rate was three times higher in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas
  • While suicide rates are strongly related to deprivation level, this difference in inequality has decreased between 2004-08 and 2014-18
  • 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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