Dundee has highest suicide rate in mainland Scotland as numbers rise across the country

Dundee has highest suicide rate in mainland Scotland as numbers rise across the country

Dundee has one of the highest rates of suicide in Scotland as the national figure rises.

Data published by the ISD (information services division) show that 784 probable suicides took place in the country in 2018 — a 15% rise on the 680 recorded in 2017.

There had been a dip in overall rates across Scotland between 2013 and 2015, but it has steadily risen since then.

In Dundee, 19 people per 100,000 people have committed suicide in the last five years — second only to the Orkney Islands with 20.1.

The national average between 2014 and 2018 was 13.2.

Angus was below that, with 10.1 per 100,000 people — the fifth lowest in Scotland.

In Perth and Kinross the rate was 13.3 and in Fife it was 12.9.

Dundee City Council launched a campaign earlier this month, focusing on social media, that highlights where to go for support.

Across Scotland, the rates for men are three times higher than for women.

The highest rate for men occur between the ages of 35 and 44, but for women it is between 45 and 54.

In August 2018, the Scottish Government launched a suicide prevention action plan.

The National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group is expected to publish its first annual report in September.

As of the end of April this year, there has been more than 2,800 referrals to specialists help from front-line services.

Clare Haughey, mental health minister, said: “Any suicide is a tragedy.

“An increase in deaths by suicide last year is concerning and is sadly reflected in other parts of the world, too.

“We remain committed to building on the overall 19% decrease in suicide rates in Scotland between 2004-2008.

“Alongside mental health and suicide prevention groups, we are working to raise public awareness and improve crisis support services for at risk groups.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “These are startling and heartbreaking statistics.

“More than two people a day are dying by suicide and there has been an unbelievable rise in deaths among young people.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Annie Wells said: “The Scottish Government may have spent more time talking about mental health in recent years, but these figures show that hasn’t been matched by action.

“We’ve gone backwards and the hundreds of who took their own lives last year are a tragic testament to that.”

 

 

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NHS failed my Luke in his hour of need: Dad of two hanged himself at home after being failed by system, says grieving partner

Karen McKeown

MEDICS failed to help a suicidal man who contacted health services eight times in six days before he died, his partner has claimed.

 

Luke Henderson’s girlfriend Karen McKeown is now calling for an urgent review of mental health support services for men in Scotland.

Karen tried to get help for Luke almost every day in the week before his death.

Despite phoning NHS24, going to A&E, contacting GPs and other community services on eight different occasions, the couple were either turned away, referred elsewhere or told that Luke showed no signs of mental health problems.

NHS Lanarkshire’s initial review said their staff had followed procedure and “consistently did not find any evidence” that Luke wanted to take his own life. However, they have now launched a fresh investigation.

Luke spoke to at least 11 different NHS employees between December 22 and December 28 last year. Karen found him hanging in the home they shared with their two children on December 29.

The 30-year-old’s calls for better men’s mental health services has been backed by her MSP, Monica Lennon, who has urged NHS bosses to further investigate.

Karen knew something was wrong with Luke when he started saying colleagues at his construction job were spying on and filming him, putting videos on the internet and laughing at him.

He had stopped sleeping, said he could hear voices in his head and could see things which weren’t there.

Karen, from Motherwell, said: “If they had done their jobs as medical professionals, the way I did mine as his partner and mother of his children, I believe Luke would still be here. My children would still have their dad.

“They failed him. I felt like he was planning to take his own life.

“There were loads of warning signs – he was asking my cousin to look after me if anything happened to him, he was telling me how much he loved me and kept saying sorry for things.

“I told doctors this, but they wouldn’t listen.”

Karen and Luke, with son Luke and daughter Kaydence

In a review conducted by NHS Lanarkshire, officials ruled that they had followed procedures and their staff found no signs of mental illness, nor believed Luke was at risk of suicide.

However, medical notes from December 23, seen by The Sunday Post, show some staff who first saw Luke at Wishaw General A&E thought he was at risk of harming himself and that he was hallucinating.

They recorded in their notes that Luke was “hearing voices in head…feels wants to kill self”, “experiencing delusions” and was “an immediate risk to himself”.

When he first went to the emergency unit, he was categorised as a high-risk patient, but less than two hours later after being seen by a nurse, it was ruled that he showed no signs of having a “depressive illness or psychotic disturbance”.Medical staff decided that, because Luke said he was looking forward to Christmas, he was making plans for the future and was not suicidal.

Karen said: “Christmas was less than two days away by that point, it didn’t mean he was ‘forward planning’ as they said.

“I kept telling them he wasn’t making any plans after Christmas.

“On Christmas Eve I had to take him to see a psychiatric nurse, but they wouldn’t do anything. They told us to go to an addiction service, which re-opened on the 28th.”

Toxicology reports showed there were no traces of alcohol or drugs in Luke’s body when he died. He had suffered addiction issues in the past.

In 2011, Luke attempted to take his own life and in 2015 admitted himself into hospital as he was hearing voices.

After being an in-patient for a week, he was given medication to help him.

Karen said: “We got through Christmas Day and Luke made it all about us, and the four of us being together. That day he managed to sleep for the first time in a long while. He fell asleep on the couch but he was still not acting normally.”

Again, on December 27, the couple, along with some of Luke’s family members, went back to A&E after he continued to say he could hear voices and was seeing dogs in his house.

She said: “The staff didn’t speak to me or Luke’s family at all. They just spoke to Luke, and said nothing was wrong and he wasn’t showing signs of being mentally unwell.

“The next day I took him to the addiction services they told us about, but it was just a form-filling exercise and they didn’t give us any help.

“They said we would have to wait for someone to get in touch at a later date.”

On the day before his death, Karen took Luke to two GPs to try to get him an urgent appointment, before taking him to her own doctor and registering him there.

The couple were told an appointment was available that afternoon, but when they returned a second receptionist said there had been a mistake and they were sent home.

That night, Karen woke to her eight-year-old son, also named Luke, crying. She saw that her partner was not in bed and when she went to her son’s room she discovered he was awake.

Karen said: “I asked him why he was awake and he said that daddy had come in to say goodnight. That’s when I went downstairs and saw Luke’s body. I just started screaming.”

Iain Mackenzie, acting general manager for mental health services, said: “We are aware of this tragic matter and undertook a review in line with Health Improvement Scotland guidelines, which aims to identify any learning points.

“Members of our patient affairs team have also subsequently met with Ms McKeown with a view to further investigate the issues raised by her, and the team is also liaising with the other services involved.

“The investigation is still ongoing and, once complete, we will share the findings with Ms McKeown.”

Vulnerable Scots falling through net

In the last five years, more than 2,600 men have taken their own lives in Scotland, with more than 500 dying last year.

MSP Monica Lennon says too many people dealing with mental health problems, alcohol or drug issues are falling through the net, and is continuing to call for an investigation into why Luke was failed.

She said: “Luke’s tragic death is a painful loss to his family and Karen is one of the bravest people I have met. Asking for help should guarantee access to medical treatment but when it comes to addiction and mental health, vulnerable people too often are left to fall through the cracks.

“Nothing will bring Luke back but Karen is courageously drawing on her family’s experience to prevent others having doors closed in their faces. Karen continues to have my full support.

“Vulnerable people are being failed because people with lived experience are not being listened to.”

 

 

Link to Sunday Post article here

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Friends united with football match and raise thousands for mental health charity in memory of Dundee dad Lee

 

 

Link to Telegraph article here 

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“Losing faith”: the mental health crisis facing young Scots

With problems of mental health increasingly prevalent, and feelings of hopelessness and anxiety on the rise, what can be done to help Scotland’s young people?

OVER 40 per cent of Scotland’s young people said they have experienced a problem with their mental health in a new UK wide survey. 

Meanwhile, 51 per cent say they commonly feel anxious, 53 per cent speak of semi-constant stress, and one in five describe themselves as regularly feeling hopeless.

These findings were revealed in the latest figures released by the Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index, based on a survey of 2,194 people aged 16 to 25 from across the UK. The Index assesses numerous factors which inform young people’s wellbeing, from physical health to family environment to working conditions.

Now in its 10th year, the most recent findings from the index also suggest that the emotional health of Scotland’s young people has declined measurably year on year.

“This is a generation rapidly losing faith in their ability to achieve their goals in life, who are increasingly wary of and disillusioned with the jobs market.” Senior head of partnerships at Prince’s Trust Scotland Finlay Laverty

This data echoes the conclusions of a poll conducted among Scottish young people in January by YouGov on behalf of the Mental Health Foundation, which found that over half of Scots aged 18 to 24 have experienced poor mental health as a result of loneliness and social isolation.

Responding to the new Macquarie Youth Index, Finlay Laverty, senior head of partnerships at Prince’s Trust Scotland, argued that the high numbers of young Scots facing problems with their mental and emotional health was tied to the unforgiving circumstances they face, saying: “It should ring alarm bells for us all that young people in Scotland are feeling more despondent about their emotional health.

“This is a generation rapidly losing faith in their ability to achieve their goals in life, who are increasingly wary of and disillusioned with the jobs market. Scotland is at real risk of leaving a wealth of untapped potential to go to waste.”

Commenting further, Laverty went on to demand action from multiple sectors of Scottish society, in light of the problem’s national implications: “One of the most important things we can do to change this picture is show young people that it’s worth having high aspirations, that opportunities to earn a decent living and progress in a career are out there, and that they’ll be supported along the way to live, learn and earn.

“For this to happen, it is vital that government, charities, and employers across Scotland invest more in developing young people’s skills and in providing opportunities for them to progress in fulfilling sustainable careers.

“Unless we act now we will face an imminent mental health storm.” Mental Health Foundation director Isabella Goldie

“Commitments to initiatives that promote positive mental well-being should underpin this to help create a culture of openness, where young feel supported and listened to.”

While Laverty points to the need for opportunities and provisions of mental health care, the rising prominence of young people’s mental and emotional wellbeing on the Scottish political agenda has seen numerous factors highlighted recently.

Following the January YouGov poll, Mental Health Foundation director Isabella Goldie observed that “loneliness among younger people is hugely underreported, but our research is clear that social isolation affects the mental health of young people more than any other age group.

“Our children are finding life harder to navigate than previous generations, and worryingly, they are living with high levels of distress. This is something we can no longer choose to ignore.

Goldie went on to warn that without action, Scotland faced a crisis in the mental health of its youth: “Too many of our young people are not thriving and unless we act now we will face an imminent mental health storm.”

The Mental Health Foundation’s research identified the prevalence of social media as a factor in the social isolation of young people, a phenomenon recognised by Cinzia DuBois, an Edinburgh-based writer and digital media specialist who has spoken extensively about her own experiences with mental health.

“Perfectionism is killing the millennial generation, and every generation which follows.” Writer and digital media specialist Cinzia DuBois

Speaking to CommonSpace, DuBois said: “As a millennial, I lived over shift, but I remember self-harming by the age of seven. By the age of seven I was convinced that I wouldn’t amount to anything, the institutions that I was part of had already convinced me life and success was an ‘all or nothing’ game. Perfectionism is killing the millennial generation, and every generation which follows.

“Originally it was just the academic institutions which graded and compartmentalised students’ self-worth; but now the young generation have more opportunities to micro-analyse their value. It’s a well-known fact that social media platforms have been designed to be addictive. Technology has hijacked people’s minds; rather than sitting in a casino pulling on the handle of a slot machine, young people are posting from their phones.”

Earlier this year, the Mental Health Foundation noted the importance Scottish Government pledges on creating a strategy addressing social isolation, as well as establishing a Youth Commission on mental health. However, Goldie also called for increased investment in schools based counselling, and affirmed the necessity of adequate mental health training for teachers.

The Scottish Government has been at pains to emphasise its commitment to addressing concerns surrounding young Scots’ mental health. Responding to the latest Prince’s Trust figures, Minister for Mental Health Maureen Watt told CommonSpace: “Providing a positive future for our young people is our top priority and this report shows that we must continue to do all we can to promote and improve wellbeing and to help children and young people thrive.

“Mental health needs to be something that everybody talks about, and reducing stigma and promoting discussion and early action are vital to ensuring that Scotland is the best place to grow up.” Minister for Mental Health Maureen Watt

“Mental health needs to be something that everybody talks about, and reducing stigma and promoting discussion and early action are vital to ensuring that Scotland is the best place to grow up – especially in 2018, the Year of Young People.”

Watt pointed to the Scottish Government’s ongoing efforts in the area, saying: “Our 10-year Mental Health Strategy, backed by investment of £150 million over the next five years, sets out clearly how we can improve early intervention, and ensure better access to services. That includes specific actions to support young people.”

In addition to their Mental Health Strategy, the Scottish Government in March of this year announced the formation of a new youth commission on mental health services, formed from between 15 and 20 people aged 14 to 22, recruited from a variety of backgrounds. With funding of £95,000, the commission will report back to ministers over the course of its 15-month tenure with recommendations for improving provisions for young Scots’ mental health.

READ MORE: SNP youth wing urges party to do more for student mental health

However, criticisms of existing provisions in Scotland are long-standing and widespread.

In January, the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), following the publication of their study ‘Going to Be… Well-Trained’, called on the Scottish Government to mark the Year of Young People by creating a programme to train all Scottish school staff in mental health after their survey revealed that more than two-thirds of teachers in Scotland do not feel they have received enough mental health training to properly carry out their role.

The survey also found one a third of school staff believed their school had an effective means of responding to mental health problems among pupils.

The importance of mental health provision within Scottish education was further underlined by SAMH, who have reported that half of all mental health problems in adulthood start by the mid-teens, while three-quarters have manifested by the time those suffering from them reach their mid-twenties.

Concerns within the education sector extend to colleges and universities, where the lack of adequate or available counselling for students has become increasingly controversial.

“It’s hard to understate the role that on-campus mental health services play in supporting students with mental ill health to access, remain, and succeed in education.” NUS Scotland president Luke Humberstone

Responding to the Prince’s Trust figures, NUS Scotland president Luke Humberstone told CommonSpace: “NUS Scotland has long highlighted the growing levels of mental ill health in Scotland’s students, and these figures are further evidence of the need to invest in mental health support as a matter of priority.

“It’s hard to understate the role that on-campus mental health services play in supporting students with mental ill health to access, remain, and succeed in education, breaking down barriers to the fantastic opportunities that education creates.

“However, the provision of these vital services across the country is patchy at best – with some institutions having a range of services on offer, while others have no on-campus counsellors available to students.”

Nevertheless, despite what improvements and new initiatives may be made by the Scottish Government or by the charity sector, within educational institutions or NHS Scotland, some have echoed Finlay Laverty’s warnings that the seemingly unfulfillable demands placed upon young people, particularly when reliable, fulfilling employment is increasingly scarce, can be a major factor in the nation’s worsening crisis of mental health.

READ MORE: Scottish pupils have been “failed” by lack of mental health training for teachers, charity says

In their 2017 report ‘Flexibility for Who? Millennials and mental health in the modern labour market’, the progressive think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research revealed that their analysis showed younger workers in part-time and temporary work are more likely to experience poorer mental health, with zero-hours contracts, low pay and job insecurity all listed as contributing factors to mental health problems.

The IPPR warns that, unless action is taken by government and employers, “younger workers face a future employment landscape that could damage their health and wellbeing”.

While Scotland, as of 2016, has the lowest rate of zero hours contracts in the UK, their presence remains a major aspect of the employment landscape, and millennial precarity is almost omnipresent through the developed world. Without significant upheaval or drastic reform, the economic factors driving the mental health issues of Scotland’s youth will not end soon.

Whether action on other levels of society will be enough to combat the unfolding crisis remains to be seen.

 

 

Link to Common Space article here 

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Half of youngsters ‘experience mental health problems’

Survey: More than half of young people said they "didn't feel good enough".
Survey: More than half of young people said they “didn’t feel good enough”. 

Almost half of young people in Scotland have experienced a mental health problem and regularly feel stressed, a survey has found.

Research by the Prince’s Trust highlighted body image, finances, educational results and “not being good enough in general” as the main worries for people aged between 16 and 25.

The survey found that 43% of young Scots have experienced a mental health problem while 53% regularly feel stressed.

 The Prince’s Trust said it offers free counselling service to young people and called on the Scottish Government and employers to promote support and positive mental well-being in Scotland’s Year of Young People.

Finlay Laverty, senior head of partnerships at Prince’s Trust Scotland, said: “This is a generation rapidly losing faith in their ability to achieve their goals in life, who are increasingly wary of and disillusioned with the jobs market.

“Scotland is at real risk of leaving a wealth of untapped potential to go to waste.

“One of the most important things we can do to change this picture is show young people that it’s worth having high aspirations, that opportunities to earn a decent living and progress in a career are out there, and that they’ll be supported along the way to live, learn and earn.

“For this to happen, it is vital that government, charities and employers across Scotland invest more in developing young people’s skills and in providing opportunities for them to progress in fulfilling, sustainable careers.

“Commitments to initiatives that promote positive mental well-being should underpin this to help create a culture of openness, where young feel supported and listened to.”

The Prince’s Trust surveyed 2194 16 to 25-year-olds across the UK and 267 in Scotland at the end of last year.

 

Link to STV News here 

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NHS Tayside’s plan to cut mental health prescription bills criticised

Doug Cross has questioned the motivation behind cutting prescriptions.

Tayside health bosses have been criticised for a proposal to cut the number of mental health drugs they give out as the board attempts to curb a spiralling prescription bill.

Pharmacy director Frances Rooney and primary care medical director Dr Michelle Watts have drawn up plans to reduce the dispensing of antidepressants and antipsychotics.

They aim to bring Tayside’s rate of prescription into the bottom 25% of all health boards in Scotland. If approved, the proposal will save £110,000 a year.

Ms Watts told a meeting of the health board: “We need to focus on an agenda that isn’t just about prescribing tablets.”

The proposal was immediately criticised by Doug Cross, a non-executive member of NHS Tayside’s board, who questioned the motivation behind it.

He said: “We talk about achieving better outcomes for patients. Cutting prescribing to come down to the bottom quartile for Scotland doesn’t seem the right motivation.”

Ms Watts replied that there are other routes mental health treatment can take, such as self-management, and working with community-based mental health teams.

Other moves that could contribute to an annual saving of £2.58 million include cutting prescriptions for those with Type 2 diabetes.

Those with the condition would be encouraged to eat better and take more exercise, which could save up to £150,000 each year.

Tayside is also set to scrap support for homeopathic medicines, saving £30k a year, and dropping use of painkilling lidocaine plasters to save £100k.

A reduction in the use of liothyronine, a drug used to treat thyroid problems with disputed effectiveness, and a change in the supplier of epilepsy drug pregablin, would save a further £1.8m.

The proposed cuts are seen as vital for bringing Tayside’s drugs budget, one of the biggest drains on finance, under control. As of the end of January, prescribing spend is £3.6m over budget.

 

Link to Evening Telegraph article here 

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