About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) is the annual update of suicide statistics on the Scottish Public Health Observatory (ScotPHO) website. It is based on information on deaths from suicide registered in Scotland in 2019. The publication is released on the same day as National Records of Scotland publish their 2019 suicide statistics.

Main points

  • There were 833 probable suicides registered in Scotland in 2019, which is an increase from 784 in 2018.
  • The number of males who died by suicide was 620 and the number of females was 213.
  • The highest rate of suicide occurs in the 45 – 54 age group for both males and females.
Image caption Deaths caused by probable suicide1 – Rates per 100,000 population by gender and age group2, Scotland 2019
Chart showing main points

1 Rates are based on the new WHO coding rules. See ‘Background’ section for more information.
2 The age groups 0-14 and 85+ years are excluded from the chart to protect patient confidentiality.

  • There is a known link between deprivation and suicide. The probable suicide rate between the years 2015 and 2019 was three times higher in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas.


'Probable suicides' refers to deaths from intentional self-harm and events of undetermined intent. The latter category includes cases where it is not clear whether the death is a suicide; however it is understood that the majority of deaths of this type are actually suicides, so they are included here.

In 2011, National Records of Scotland (external website) changed their coding rules for certain causes of death. Some deaths previously coded under 'mental and behavioural disorders' are now classed as 'self-poisoning of undetermined intent' and consequently are classified as suicides.

In 2019, the Scottish Government released the new Suicide Prevention Action Plan: Every Life Matters (external website) in which it sets out clear actions leaders at a national, regional and local level must take to transform society’s response and attitudes towards suicide.

Further information

The publication and supporting information can be found on the Scottish Public Health Observatory website (external website). A technical paper (external website) describing the data and methodology used in this release is also available.

The most recent ScotSID report, Scottish Suicide Information Database: Contact with Unscheduled Care Services prior to death (external website), showed for the first time contact that had been made prior to death by suicide with unscheduled care services.

The next release of this publication will be in summer 2021.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.mentalhealth@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 07 October 2022
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