Scottish suicide rate nearly 80 per cent higher than England
By Ian Birch
Two alarming studies by the university of Manchester have found that there is a widening gap between the suicide rate in Scotland and England, with 79% more suicides in Scotland than England and Wales in 2001-2006.
Up until the 2000s, the study says Scotland's suicide rate was among the highest in Europe. The first team found that the suicide rate in both men and women was in fact lower in Scotland until around 1968 when it overtook the rate in England & Wales. Suicides among men continued to rise on both sides of the border until the early 1990s when rates in England & Wales began to fall and the gap between north and south widened markedly.
The second study showed that, overall, 57% of the additional suicide risk in Scotland was explained by a range of area-level measures, including prescriptions for psychotropic drugs, alcohol and drug use, socioeconomic deprivation, social fragmentation, and other health-related factors.
“Our research reveals that the suicide rate in Scotland compared to that in England & Wales has three distinct phases,” said joint lead researcher Dr Roger Webb, from The University of Manchester’s Centre for Suicide Prevention.
“Up until the late 1960s, the suicide rate in England was always higher than that in Scotland, but around 1968 the rates ‘crossed over’ with Scotland having the higher rate in both genders. In phase two, between 1969 and 1991, the rates remained steadily higher in Scotland than in England, but from 1992 onwards we see a third phase where the suicide mortality gap between the two countries widened markedly.”
Some of the details published by both studies, and some of the comments reported in the mainstream media today, would be against both Samaritans and National Union of Journalists guidelines as they could lead to copycat suicides and be highly triggering. For this reason also, we have been careful what image we selected to illustrate this story.
The first study was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry and the second in the Journal of Epidimiology and Community Health.