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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 December, 2004, 08:03 GMT
Poorer Scots at risk of suicide
Depressed man
Poorer men are more likely to commit suicide, claims the study
Deprived Scots are four times as likely to commit suicide than those living in more affluent areas, a study has found.

Researchers found suicide rates among poorer communities had increased dramatically since 1980.

The General Register Office for Scotland found suicides for 15-44-year-olds went up from 15.38 to 24.32 per 100,000 between 1980 and 2001.

The study suggested drug abuse, divorce and unemployment could be to blame as they are more common in poorer areas.

The results, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), found men in the most deprived communities were four times more at risk of taking their own lives than those in more affluent areas.

We need to get across a message of hope for people
Gregor Henderson
Scottish Executive

Across all parts of Scotland, the risk of suicide for males rose from 22.13 to 38.65 per 100,000.

The suicide rate for all women increased from 8.62 to 10.55 per 100,000 over the same timescale.

However, the figures noticed a sharp increase in female suicides between 1999 and 2001 when almost six times more women took their own lives while living in poorer postcodes.

The researchers also noticed suicide rates dropped for those aged 45 and over, dropping from 22.99 per 100,000 in 1980-82 to 16.73 in 1999-2001.

Despite the findings, the Scottish Executive, which has set a target to reduce suicides by 15% for 10-24-year-olds in the most deprived communities by 2009, said the rate had already fallen since the end of the BMJ study in 2001.

Vitally important

The director of the executive's national programme for improving mental health, Gregor Henderson, said: "Achieving this target will rely heavily on people all over Scotland becoming more aware of their own mental and emotional health and well-being and the difficulties facing others.

"We need to get across a message of hope for people.

"The vast majority of people who experience mental or emotional ill-health and difficulties can and do recover with the right support and help.

"People's attitudes also help and ending the stigma that still exists is also of vital importance."

The Scottish Association for Mental Health said the rising suicide rate among poorer communities came as no surprise.

Policy director Richard Norris said: "In Scotland we need to be more open about mental health problems, so that people are able to seek help before it is too late.

"This survey shows we need to focus on the importance of mental well-being and ensuring everyone, particularly among younger people, has a feeling of belonging.


SEE ALSO:
Call for full suicide inquiries
19 May 04 |  Scotland
Training to spot suicide risks
08 Sep 03 |  Scotland
Male depression fears grow
10 Jun 03 |  Scotland
'Stop the suicides' plan unveiled
02 Dec 02 |  Scotland
Helpline for depressed men
11 Mar 02 |  Scotland


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