Suicide: key points

  • There were 728 suicides (deaths from intentional self-harm and events of undetermined intent) registered in Scotland in 2016, compared to 672 in 2015. These figures are based on the new coding rules introduced by the National Records of Scotland (NRS). The corresponding estimates based on the old coding rules (see note below) are 697 suicides in 2016 and 656 in 2015.

  • In 2016, the suicide rate for males was more than two-and-a-half times that for females.

  • In 2012-16, the suicide rate was more than two-and-a-half times higher in the most deprived tenth of the population (decile) compared to the least deprived decile (21.3 deaths per 100,000 population compared to 7.6).

  • While suicide rates are strongly related to deprivation level, this difference or inequality has decreased between 2002-06 and 2012-16.
  • The suicide rate varies between different areas within Scotland and fluctuates over time.  However, in 2012-16, no boards were significantly different to the rest of Scotland.  

  • Scotland appears to have had a higher suicide rate than the UK overall since the early 1990s, though this comparison is affected by differences in data recording practices between countries.

Note: In 2011, NRS changed their coding rules for certain causes of death. Some deaths previously coded under 'mental and behavioural disorders' are now classed as 'self-poisoning of undetermined intent' and consequently are classified as suicides.

Please note that when analysing suicide data, it is conventional to combine deaths by intentional self-harm with deaths of undetermined intent. Research indicates that most deaths of undetermined intent are likely to be suicides. We refer to the data as 'suicides' but the term 'probable suicides' may also be used to acknowledge the inclusion of deaths of undetermined intent.

In 2009, how NRS obtains information about the nature of death changed. Since then, there has been a large increase in the percentage of poisoning deaths described as accidental, and a fall in those described as being due to events of undetermined intent. This contributed to the fall in recent years in the number of probable suicides. More information about this is available on the NRS website.

Current data on suicide in Scotland is available on the Data pages. To navigate between pages in this section, use the Suicide part at the bottom of the left-hand menu bar.

Section updates:

  • The last major update of this section, adding data on suicides registered in 2016, was completed in August 2017. (Please see the Suicide Statistics technical paper for details of changes in methodology for this update.)

  • The next major update, adding suicides registered in 2016, is due in August 2018.



Ciara Gribben
Senior Information Analyst
Tel: 0131 275 7769

Suzanne Hill
Principal Information Analyst
Tel: 0131 314 1530

ISD Mental Health Analyses Team

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This is an Official Statistics Publication for Scotland produced by Information Services Division (ISD) on behalf of ScotPHO. See the ISD About Our Statistics web page for further information on ISD and Official Statistics.


User engagement:

ScotPHO and ISD are keen to seek the views of users of health statistics in Scotland in order to improve their quality, value, accessibility and impact. A joint engagement event was arranged in 2014 with ISD, UK Statistics Authority and health statistics users (see the full report (1Mb)).

ScotPHO welcomes feedback on the information included in this update and its presentation; please email us at  scotpho@nhs.netThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .