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BBC Scotland's Gavin Walker reports
"Economic and social conditions are thought to be factors"
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Dr Andrew Fraser, deputy chief medical officer
"We have a sustained and high level of young male suicide"
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Monday, 9 October, 2000, 18:49 GMT 19:49 UK
Alarming rise in suicide rate
Changing expectations are said to be among the causes
Suicide rates among young Scottish men are double those in England, according to a new report.

And the author of the Edinburgh University report said men aged between 15 and 24 were six times more likely to take their own lives than women.

The shocking rise in suicide rates among young men is revealed in "The Sorrows of Young Men", which has been produced by the Centre for Theology and Public Issues.

Released at the start of Mental Health Week, it says the number of males aged between 25 and 34 who have taken their lives has leapt by 245% in almost 30 years.

The alternative to life without prospects is to shorten it

Dr Andrew Fraser
Author Professor Stephen Platt said: "From the early Seventies the rate in Scotland has continued to increase."

He said that in the year to October 1999 the Scottish male suicide rate was about double that in England in the 15 to 24 age group - and six times that for Scottish women.

The report looks at the reasons why there has been such a massive increase in the figures.

These include the breakdown in traditional family structures and a lack of social support in society generally.

Increasing unemployment

Other reasons include changing gender role expectations and increasing unemployment.

Scotland's deputy chief medical officer, Dr Andrew Fraser, contributed to the report.

He said the 25-34 group was historically the age at which men took their lives.

"It's when they look out and see there are few prospects for them, they are poverty-stricken, they may have drug and alcohol problems - there's not much hope around.

Professor Stephen Platt
Professor Stephen Platt is the report's author
"The alternative to life without prospects is to shorten it and that's a very sad reflection of the way they see life," said Dr Fraser.

Poverty was closely associated with suicide, he added. "That's where we need to look for answers to the problem."

A range of solutions were needed, focussing on social inclusion policies which ensured that young men at risk of killing themselves were able to seek and find help.

The study says that developing effective strategies to deal with the problem is an enormous task and there is insufficient evidence about how to help this group of young adults.

It adds that a concerted response by practitioners, policy makers and researchers is needed - and that such a response is long overdue.

The number of young women taking their own lives has also increased, according to the report.

European pattern

Although the report concentrates on Scotland, it says that the trend echoes patterns in the rest of the UK and the rest of Europe.

The Samaritans say there are at least two suicides every day by young people under the age of 25 in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.

The rate of suicide among young men aged between 15 and 24 in the UK has increased since the 1970s.

Although the statistics showed a downturn from 1993, the rate in 1998 was 16 per 100,000, compared with a national suicide rate of 13 per 100,000.

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