Today’s 'Suicide among young people in Scotland' report highlights that suicide was the leading cause of death among children and young adults, accounting for one in four (25.7%) lives lost, during the period 2011 to 2020. It also highlights that those across the 5-24 age group who died by suicide were less likely to have had contact with a healthcare service in the period before death, compared to older adults who died by suicide.

The report, published by Public Health Scotland (PHS), presents an analysis of information held on the Scottish Suicide Information Database (ScotSID). Established in 2009, ScotSID provides a central repository for information on all suicide deaths in Scotland. This latest report presents data on deaths from suicide, registered with the National Records of Scotland (NRS) during the period 2011 to 2020, among people aged 5-24 years.

Professor Steve Platt, Chair of the ScotSID Steering Group and Emeritus Professor of Health Policy Research at the University of Edinburgh, said:

“Thankfully, suicide is far less common in those aged 5-24 than among older adults. Nevertheless, during the period covered by the report, there were 820 young people resident in Scotland who died by suicide. That's an average of nearly seven each month, considerably more than the number of young people dying by road accidents.

“Through ScotSID we are learning more about the circumstances and characteristics of suicide deaths. This knowledge will help us to develop more effective preventative action in future.”

Richmond Davies, Head of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at PHS, said:

“ScotSID links finalised NRS death records for suicides with selected data sources held by PHS. By doing so, we are able to improve our understanding of suicide so we can work to identify preventative activities and programmes.

“PHS will continue to use data and evidence and, with our partners, identify actions that can be taken to reduce avoidable deaths across all of our communities in Scotland.”

If you, or anyone you know, are experiencing thoughts of suicide please:

  • Call 999 or go to A&E now if you do not feel you can keep yourself or someone else safe
  • Contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK - for children and young people under 35 who are having thoughts of suicide or anyone concerned that a young person could be thinking about suicide - call 0800 068 4141 or text 07860039967 or mail: pat@papyrus-uk.org - opened 9am - midnight every day of the year.
  • Contact Childline – for anyone under 19 – call 0800 1111 or to chat or email or to talk to other young people go to: https://www.childline.org.uk/get-support/
  • Text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact Shout Crisis Text Line, text “YM” if you are under 19. The service is available 24/7.
  • Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans. Samaritans are there to listen 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and it’s always free to call from any landline or mobile phone. You can also email jo@samaritans.org
  • Call 111 to talk to NHS 24’s mental health hub 24/7. (Only available for people living in Scotland).
  • Call 0800 83 85 87 to talk to Breathing Space or go to their website for more information about their web chat service. The service is open 24 hours at weekends (6pm Friday – 6am Monday) and 6pm to 2am on weekdays (Monday – Thursday). (Only available for people living in Scotland).

The 'Suicide among young people in Scotland' report can be found here.

An infographic that highlights some of the key findings can be found here.

Last updated: 06 September 2022