There has been widespread shock and new figures showing a 160% increase in suicides among young people living in Scotland, with the Scottish Government admitting that the increase is “heartbreaking”.
Official figures revealing rising suicide rates among children and young people have sparked calls for immediate action by the Scottish Government, over fears that inadequate mental health services are leaving vulnerable young people with nowhere to turn for help and support.
The Daily Record reports that suicides among 15-24 year-olds have soared by 50%, while the same information also shows a 25% rise between 2014 and 2018 in suicides among 18-24 year olds, from 59 to 75.
In 2014, ten under 18’s commited suicide, but that number rose to 26 in 2018 – the highest number in five years.
According to a recent study by Glasgow University, one in nine young people in Scotland have attempted or completed suicide, while one in six young people admit to self-harming.
Meanwhile, the number of young people waiting more than a year for mental health support in Scotland has tripled in the last twelve months.
And data suggests that nearly 120 young people were forced to wait more than 53 weeks to be seen by mental health services in the first three months of 2019.
Labour MSP Monica Lennon said: “It is tragic and deeply worrying that so many children and young people have ended their lives in Scotland in recent years. Specialist youth mental health services are badly under-resourced.”
She added: “SNP Ministers have been warned repeatedly that vulnerable young people are falling through the cracks.
“Nicola Sturgeon’s government has made good commitments on mental health and suicide prevention; however, warm words are meaningless if education, youth services and the NHS are not getting enough investment.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It’s heartbreaking when anyone takes their own life.
“We are working tirelessly with partners to improve mental health services for young people, including those who have considered suicide or been bereaved by it.
“It is an area that the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group is focusing on and we are working with COSLA to implement their recommendations.
“We are developing new community wellbeing support services, which will initially be for five to 25 year olds.
“Actions to improve peer support in schools and teacher training are being worked on, along with 24/7 crisis support for children and young people and their families.
“We are also investing in mental health support for students. That will see over 80 additional counsellors in further and higher education over next four years, with £20 million investment.”