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Drop in suicides welcomed by NHSGGC

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Suicide rates in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area are at their lowest for more than 30 years, and are around half of what they were in 1993.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is working hard to reduce suicide rates amongst its residents and has a range of prevention programmes - with a wide range of partners - to address many of associated risk factors for suicide.

The figures were shared by NHSGGC at their Board meeting this week as part of a wider update on progress with suicide prevention efforts.

Report co-author Dr Trevor Lakey said: “Death through suicide is not only a tragic loss of life for individuals affected, but also has a devastating impact on family and friends as well as on wider social networks. We welcome this drop in the number of deaths by suicide to their lowest in 30 years, but are determined to continue our efforts to reduce rates further.”

In The NHSGGC area 136 residents took their own life in 2015, which is 51% of the 1993 figure, which peaked at 269 deaths. The reduction in deaths by suicide in Glasgow City has been more pronounced, from 174 deaths in 1993 to 69 in 2015 – a 60% reduction. When broken down to local authority areas, Glasgow City deaths are almost exactly at the average for Scotland, but deaths by suicide in Inverclyde are second highest.

Dr. Lakey continued: “There are many demographic factors which affect suicide rates. The suicide rate for males in 2015 is more than two-and-a-half times higher than that for females. However the rate for men is falling, whereas that for women has remained almost unchanged.

“While suicide can affect anyone, deprivation is also a major factor. In 2011-15, the suicide rate was more than three times higher in the most deprived tenth of the population compared to the least deprived. It is however encouraging that rates for males in the most deprived areas have seen the largest reductions.

The NHSGGC approach to suicide prevention involves taking actions both within clinical services and also working collectively with many partners across the Board area, including the network of Choose Life Programmes. These were put in place as a result of the Scottish Choose Life Strategy introduced in 2003.

Within clinical services, one of the approaches used is service improvement through Significant Clinical Incident (SCI) review. Every death that occurs in patients known to Mental Health services and for up to one year after discharge is considered a Significant Clinical Incident and is investigated. SCI investigations are shaped by families and carers, and conclusions shared with them.

The multi-agency suicide prevention work has included a major focus on delivering suicide prevention training to key groups, including staff working in mental health, addictions, emergency medicine and other clinical services, and staff in children’s homes, money advice services, schools, housing and homelessness organisations, voluntary sector projects and the private sector.

It is estimated that over 20,000 colleagues have been trained in some form of suicide prevention skill in Greater Glasgow and Clyde over the last 13 years.

Prevention efforts also include community level initiatives, such as celebration of life events and work with young people, including development of the film “It’s OK To Ask”, as well as a range of support and awareness programmes around young people’s self-harm and a Health Board-led programme to develop digital resources for youth mental health, Aye Mind.

Everyone – from mental health workers to families, teachers, friends and neighbours, work colleagues – needs to play their part in supporting people who are feeling suicidal, and in reducing the stigma that can inhibit people from seeking help. The media too can play a valuable role, through responsible and sensitive coverage of the issues – with the recent documentary “Suicide and Me” by rapper Professor Green being a powerful recent example.

If you or anyone close to you is struggling with issues of suicide, please seek help, either from your general practitioner or through sources of help such as the Samaritans (call free on 116 123 or by email at [email protected]) or Breathing Space (call free on 0800 83 85 87).

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