Suicide rates in Dumfries and Galloway are above the Scottish average, according to a new report into suicide in Scotland between 2009 and 2015.

The NHS Health Scotland publication shows that across Dumfries and Galloway 138 deaths were confirmed as probable suicide from 2009 to 2015.

Across Scotland 5,034 deaths were judged to be from probable suicide of this the same time, with another 85 deaths from non-Scottish citizens occurring over this time.

In Dumfries and Galloway an average of 15 deaths per 100,000 were deemed to be from suicide, above the 14.5 average for the whole of Scotland.

The statistics also showed that people living in very remote small towns in Scotland were more likely (per head) to commit suicide.

The data also confirmed that people living within the most deprived communities within Scotland were most at risk of suicide.

The report follows on from an NHS Scotland report published in August which showed the number of suicides in Dumfries and Galloway was on the increase.

Commenting on the report South of Scotland MSP and Shadow Health Minister, Colin Smyth said, “This is a deeply worrying report from the NHS and highlights yet again that we have much still to do here in Dumfries and Galloway to tackle the tragedy of suicide. Behind each of those statistics are individuals and families who have suffered a devastating loss.  Suicide is one of the most tragic and saddening issues health care professionals have to deal with. There are no easy answers, but the Government and health authorities can learn from each experience and consider what more we can be done to prevent such tragedies as part of the need to tackle the mental health crisis we currently face. Over a quarter of those who went on to take their own life attended A&E within the three months before their death. 

There is no doubt that one of the biggest problems facing people with mental health issues is having access to appropriate help. It is raised by despairing families at my advice surgeries on a regular basis.  The Scottish Government must reassure the public that it is taking the right action and respond to concerns over rising mental health waiting times and the recent devastating cuts to addiction recovery services. It should also do more when it comes to prevention and invest in early intervention. 

One example would be having access for pupils to school-based counselling in every secondary school. By investing in mental health services and having a Government that treats mental health patients with the same care and priority levels as physical health then we can at least start to address this tragic issue. However, there are organisations out there who can and will help. I would urge anyone who is feels they are unable to cope to talk to someone who can help. It could be a friend or family member or they can speak with some of the great charities across Dumfries and Galloway who will support them. Breathingspace and Samaritans are two examples of organisations who are there to help

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