Today marks the beginning of Suicide Prevention Week 2021, which brings into focus that deaths by suicide across Scotland reflect the wider inequalities faced by our poorest communities.

For every two suicides in our wealthiest communities, seven occur in our poorest. Income inequality remains one of the most significant risk factors for suicide.

Claire Sweeney, Director of Place and Wellbeing at Public Health Scotland (PHS) said:

“Suicide is preventable and it is dreadful that the impact of suicide is felt most acutely across our poorest communities in Scotland. Every suicide leaves a lasting grief with loved ones, and each person who has died is missed.

“This disproportionate impact on our least wealthy communities is why PHS is focussed not only the mental wellbeing of the people of Scotland, but primarily with the underlying causes of inequality.

“The extent of the harm caused by poverty and an unequal society is rarely more recognisable than in our suicide prevention efforts Together with partners, our work continues as part of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group to deliver Scotland’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan: Every Life Matters (external website). This includes developing insight and understanding into suicide in our communities and the pivotal role poverty and inequality plays”.

In 2020, there was a slight decrease in the number of people who died by suicide, but deaths remain higher in Scotland than any other part of the UK. Men account for almost three out of every four suicides, and the number of women dying increased by 45% since 2017.

To find out more about deaths by suicide in 2020 read the suicide statistics for Scotland or find more information on the Scottish Public Health Observatory website (external website). here.

Suicide is preventable. If you or anyone you know are experiencing thoughts of suicide please call Samaritans on 116 123 (free) Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87 (free, available Mon-Thu 6pm-2am and Fri-Mon 6pm-6am) from or Samaritans on 116123 or NHS24 Mental Health Hub 111 (free, 24 hours per day).


Last updated: 06 October 2022