Aus­ter­ity cuts blamed for rise in sui­cides among poorer Scots

The Scotsman - - Around Scotland - By SCOTT MACNAB

Aus­ter­ity cuts have been blamed for higher sui­cide rates among Scots from poorer ar­eas.

Peo­ple in th­ese ar­eas are three times more likely to take their own lives, a new re­port has found. With Scot­land’s sui­cide rate ris­ing af­ter years of de­cline, the re­port looked at the 5,110 Scots who killed them­selves be­tween 2009 and 2015.

Three quar­ters were men and al­most half were aged be­tween 35 and 54, the NHS Health Scot­land re­port found. more than two thirds con­tacted health ser­vices in the year be­fore their death.

But the link with de­pri­va­tion has been branded a “wake up call”.

“The link be­tween sui­cide and de­pri­va­tion is un­de­ni­able and un­der­lines the hu­man cost of aus­ter­ity,” said Labour’s Mon­ica Len­non. “The Tory gov­ern­ment in West­min­ster and the SNP gov­ern­ment in Holy­rood must change course, end aus­ter­ity and in­vest in anti-poverty mea­sures, rather than run­ning down lo­cal coun­cils and sup­port ser­vices.”

Re­cent fig­ures showed that there were 728 sui­cides in Scot­land in 2016 – an in­crease of 8 per cent com­pared to 2015.

The Scottish Gov­ern­ment has also come un­der fire over a lack of ur­gency in sui­cide pre­ven­tion.

Lib­eral Demo­crat health spokesman Alex Cole-hamil­ton said: “Sui­cide is an ab­so­lute tragedy and one that has had a pro­found im­pact on the fam­i­lies and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties left be­hind.

“Re­cent fig­ures show that, across the coun­try, sui­cide is on the rise, yet al­most a year af­ter the pre­vi­ous sui­cide pre­ven­tion strat­egy ex­pired, the SNP have still not re­placed it. We all knew that th­ese strate­gies were set to ex­pire so why did the Scottish Gov­ern­ment al­lowed such a gap to ap­pear? This is a dev­as­tat­ing dere­lic­tion of duty.

Men­tal health min­is­ter Mau­reen Watt said the Scottish Gov­ern­ment is plan­ning to pub­lish a draft sui­cide pre­ven­tion strat­egy next year.

She said: “Every sui­cide is a tragedy with a far reach­ing im­pact on fam­ily, friends and the com­mu­nity long af­ter a per­son has died. Al­though the Scottish sui­cide rate fell by 17 per cent be­tween the pe­riod 2002-6 and 2012-16, pre­ven­tion of sui­cide con­tin­ues to be a pri­or­ity area for the Scottish Gov­ern­ment.

“We there­fore, wel­come the lat­est SCOTSID re­port as a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the grow­ing ev­i­dence base on prob­a­ble sui­cides in Scot­land. It will in­form pol­icy and ac­tiv­ity that aims to con­tinue the down­ward trend in the sui­cide rate which we have seen in re­cent years.”

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