Understanding the reasons for Scotland’s high suicide rate
posted on: Jun 25, 2012
A recently published paper has looked at the reasons for Scotland having a suicide rate that is so much higher than that seen in England. The authors, from the Universities of Manchester and Edinburgh and Prof Alastair Leyland from the Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, found that more than half of the excess suicide risk in Scotland could be explained by a range of factors including prescriptions for psychotropic drugs and alcohol and drug use, with somewhat smaller contributions from socioeconomic deprivation and social fragmentation.
This ecological study compared the two countries over the period 2001-2006 and examined a range of social, cultural and health-related factors. Suicide rates among young men and women (aged 15-44) in Scotland were twice those seen in England over this period. The authors believed that the use of psychotropic drugs was a proxy measure for mental ill health and led the authors to conclude that tackling the high suicide rate in Scotland would require initiatives to prevent and treat mental ill health and to tackle alcohol and drug misuse.
The full study was funded by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government and was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. It is available here. A related paper examining the differences in suicide rates between Scotland and England & Wales is available here.