Young people face increasing risk of suicide in Scotland

December 21, 2004

Suicide rates for young people have increased dramatically in Scotland's most deprived areas, according to research in this week's BMJ.

During the two decades 1980 - 2000 young people became more than four times as likely to commit suicide in Scotland's poorest areas than its least deprived sectors.

For young women the gap increased the most. The rate of suicide for young women as a whole increased across the country slightly from 8.62 to 10.55 per 100,000. However, between 1999 and 2001 almost six times as many young women committed suicide in the most deprived areas of Scotland than in less deprived areas.

Young men aged 15 - 44 have a increased risk of suicide across all areas of Scotland with rates increasing from 22.13 to 38.65 per 100,000 in the period 1980-2 to 1999-2001. In the most deprived areas, risk increased to almost four times that of the least deprived areas.

This new research analyses data obtained from the General Register Office for Scotland over the period 1980-2 and 1999-2001 and cross-references suicide rates with deprivation rates across the country.

Suicide rates across the whole of Scotland during the two decades 1980 -2000 increased for people aged 15 - 44, from 15.38 to 24.32 per 100,000.

However the research also showed that for adults aged over 45 years, suicide rates decreased in Scotland from 22.99 per 100,000 in 1980-2 to 16.73 in 1999-2001.

The researchers suggest that factors already known to influence suicide - such as drug misuse, divorce and unemployment - are likely to be more common in deprived areas. Young people living in deprived areas of Scotland should be considered a particularly 'at risk' group in the future.


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