The Samaritans have, today, published a report, Dying from inequality – socioeconomic disadvantage and suicidal behaviour. The report explains how living in an area of deprivation increases the risk of suicidal behaviour.
Our evidence shows that there are inequalities in suicide risk. People in the lower socio-economic positions are at highest risk of suicide whichever indicator is used. These include job, class, education, income or housing. As you go down each rung of the social ladder the risk of suicide increases. This is even after taking into account underlying mental health problems. Scottish reported statistics tell us that the suicide rate is more than three times higher in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas.
Commenting on the report, George Dodds, Director of Health Equity at NHS Health Scotland said
“This report clearly explains how people living in the poorest areas of the country are more likely to engage in suicidal behaviour. Economic uncertainty, unemployment, reduced income, debt, the threat of home repossessions and job insecurity are all factors linked to suicide.
“Excellent partnership work across Scotland saw an 18% reduction in death by suicide during the last national strategy. It is vital that we continue to work together with our partners across the NHS, in national and local government and the third sector to address the inequalities that lead to people in our poorest communities engaging in suicidal behaviour. The Samaritans, Choose Life Co-ordinators and the Information Services Division of NHS National Services Scotland are vital partners who enable us to carry out our role. National data shows that those who have gone on to complete suicide in Scotland have been predominantly in employment.
“The Mental Health at Work programme led by NHS Health Scotland’s Healthy Working Lives Team is one example of our own work that helps. It is being actively supported by a range of employers through training programmes such as safeTALK and ASiST. We are also working with the local Choose Life Co-ordinators on identifying what can be done to support populations at risk, in particular through the communications activities for Suicide Prevention Week in September.”