Number of people taking their own life lowest in four years

There were 753 probable suicides in 2021, a decrease of 52 from 2020.

Number of people dying from suicide in Scotland lowest in four years iStock

The number of people dying from suicide in Scotland has fallen to the lowest level in four years.

There were 753 probable suicides in 2021, a decrease of 52 (6%) from 2020, according to new figures from the National Records of Scotland.

Most of the decrease in the past year was down to a fall in female suicides, which decreased by 42 (18%). The rate of suicide in males was more than three times as high as the rate for females.

Suicide rates were highest between the ages of 25 and 64.

It follows a charity’s research showing thousands of young people have tried to take their own life while enduring long waits for mental health treatment.

YoungMinds said almost 14,000 young people across the UK found that 26% had attempted suicide as a result of having to wait for help.

In Scotland, hundreds of children and young people have been waiting for over two years to access mental health care.

Julie Ramsay, head of vital events statistics said: “The number of people dying from suicide fell to its lowest level since 2017.

“The decrease in the most recent year was mainly driven by a fall in the number of female suicides.”

After adjusting for age, the rate of suicide in the most deprived areas in Scotland was nearly three times as high as in the least deprived areas in Scotland. This is a wider gap than deaths from all causes.

At health board level, Highland, Tayside and Ayrshire and Arran had higher suicide rates than the Scottish average. At council level, suicide rates were higher in Highland, Dundee City, East Ayrshire and Glasgow City.

In Perth and Kinross, where the number of suicides has increased in the last ten years, prevention training is being developed for primary and secondary schools while it was revealed more than 600 pupils had received one-to-one counselling since November 2020.

“Every death by suicide is a tragedy for the loved ones left behind and, while the number of deaths has dropped in recent years, I remain committed to reducing suicide and providing support for those who are affected by this heartbreak,” said mental wellbeing minister Kevin Stewart.

“It is important that people know there is help available if they are feeling suicidal. Anyone in need of support should contact their GP or call the NHS 24 helpline. Support can also be found online, through NHS Inform, and on the Samaritans and Breathing Space websites.”

When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at, or visit to find your nearest branch.

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