Suicide rates in Dundee are higher than any other city council area in Scotland, according to a new report.
The Scottish Suicide Information Database also shows that men accounted for three-quarters of suicides across Tayside in the last seven years.
According to the report, there were 164 deaths caused by suicide in Dundee with an average of 16.7 per 100,000 population between 2011 and 2017.
Angus along with Perth and Kinross Councils recorded 98 and 126 suicides respectively.
For Tayside as a whole, 388 suicides were recorded with an average per 100,000 population of 14.1.
Men were more likely to take their own lives, with the rates across Scotland highest among those aged 35-54 and in deprived areas.
Nearly three-quarters of those who died had contact with healthcare services in the year before their death.
An inquiry is currently under way into NHS Tayside’s mental health services after a number of concerns surrounding the Carseview Centre.
Phil Welsh, whose 28-year-old son Lee took his own life last year, said the latest statistics were “damning”.
He said: “It’s clear that there’s a situation here that isn’t working.
“I think the fact there is an inquiry shows there’s something amiss.
“Mental health is a discussion point now but it’s all well talking, we need support for people afterwards and that is why we badly need a crisis centre.”
A spokeswoman from NHS Health Scotland said: “National suicide prevention programmes need to incorporate a comprehensive public health approach which seeks to reduce stigma, improve mental wellbeing in the whole population and address the underlying causes of poor mental health.”
The Dundee Fighting for Fairness report summarises how key issues affecting people in city are being tackled.
It was launched at the Steeple Church following months of research by the Fairness Commission, whose members met with people and families struggling to get by.
Among the recommendations are creating a single access point for all financial advice services in the city, preparing positive, anti-poverty messages and helping frontline staff including GP surgeries to raise awareness of the impact of poverty on mental health.
John Alexander, leader of Dundee City Council and chairman of the Dundee Partnership, said: “People and money, mental health and stigma are three of the main themes we are looking at because they have featured in all of the stories we have heard.
“We know that far too much poverty that exists in the city and this is one way to target some of the root causes of that – by involving people with real-life experience.”
Another recommendation aimed at tackling issues with mental health in the city is to create a 24/7 drop-in service offering clinical, non-clinical, therapeutic and peer support.
The commission had found that people reach crisis point outside normal working hours and cannot self-refer for support when they need it most. It was also found that services did not always treat people in poverty with respect.
The partnership recommended that guidance materials are developed to allow service providers to recruit and train staff with the right values.
On December 12, the recommendations will be presented to Aileen Campbell, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government.
Relatives of a dad who took his life were set to quietly remember him as a family yesterday – a year on from his tragic death.
Lee Welsh died on August 8 last year aged 27 at his West End home.
Since his death, dad Phil has been campaigning for better mental health provision in Dundee and started a website to share stories and information – Not In Vain For Lee.
Phil said he’d been kept busy in the year since his son’s death but today was due to be a more sombre occasion.
He said: “It will be a day for the family of quiet memories and reflection.
“Myself and Lee’s mum Lesley, along with his sister Kirsty and her boyfriend Jay, have just returned from a break to Paris, which was lovely.
“Now we just want to have a couple of quiet days to remember our son.
“We’ll be going to the graveyard with flowers and just to be with each other.”
Phil said he felt Lee would be proud of all the work the family have done in the past year to raise awareness of mental health issues in the city.
“Lee never really spoke about his problems but we have been working hard to try to get people to speak about them in a bid to prevent another person taking their life,” said Phil.
“This has definitely kept us busy and it’s all done to ensure that Lee didn’t take his own life in vain.
“Although we have kept busy we have obviously had some very dark days during the past year.
“First anniversaries are always the most difficult.
“His birthday was hard and so will the anniversary of his death be.”
Phil said one thing that kept them strong was spending a lot of time with Lee’s daughter Poppy, now eight. “We have her every weekend which is just great,” he said.
“She talks about her dad a lot.
“Sometimes it’s very hard to listen to her but it keeps his memory very much alive for us.”
Phil said that over the next year they would continue to raise money and awareness of the issues people face with their mental health.
He said: “One of the main things we are supporting just now in Lee’s name is the formation of a mental health crisis centre in the city.”
A number of families back the creation of such a facility, which would differ from existing ones by allowing people to self-refer when they need immediate help, rather than waiting to be referred by a professional.
Mental health services for children and young people are under pressure.
IT was heartening to see one of the first actions of the new Scottish Government Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, being to recognise as “completely unacceptable” the fact that one in five children and young people seeking mental health treatment are having this rejected.
As an organisation that campaigns to improve mental health services, we have previously expressed our concerns over the increased demand on child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and that fact that such a high number of these children and young people who are referred for treatment have it rejected, often with no explanation or with no alternative support provided. This leaves many thousands of vulnerable children and young people in a state of limbo.
An audit commissioned by the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and NHS Information Services Division was undertaken on behalf of the Scottish Government to review this situation. What is clear from the recently published report is that for many of these young people their needs are not viewed as being severe enough to warrant CAMHS; however appropriate alternative support is lacking.
Many children, young people and their families highlighted that they have received a rejection letter within a very short timescale, and feel angry, aggrieved, cheated and let down due to a feeling that no proper assessment process has been undertaken.
More disturbingly, it appears that some clearly require treatment but this is being rejected, often without any face-to-face meeting with a specialist. In fact, only 31 per cent of those who undertook an online survey got a face-to-face assessment, and the majority were rejected on the basis of a written referral.
It was disturbing to read the harrowing first-hand accounts of the experiences of young people and their families. This includes some believing that they would not be seen unless they were suicidal or at risk of harm, and the impact that failure to get good enough treatment has on mental health, often with the situation for them worsening and then entering a crisis situation. There was evidence also of those who were self-harming, but whose condition was not deemed severe enough to warrant treatment. Situations such as this are wholly unacceptable.
It is pleasing to see the Cabinet Secretary fully accepting the 29 recommendations outlined in the report on these rejected referrals and create a new CAMHS Taskforce, headed by mental health expert, Dr Dame Denise Coia, backed with £5 million of investment to reshape and improve CAMHS.
One of the key recommendations in the report was the requirement for increased investment in CAMHS and the provision of alternative support services, for those who may not require CAMHS, with mandatory signposting to these. And yet we have seen cuts to these support services over the years. If we are to deliver the support these children and young people need we need greater investment not only in CAMHS, but in such alternative services.
It was heartening to also note the desire for a nationwide provision of schools-based services recognised. Investing a fraction of the mental health budget on school-based counselling services, for example, helps to keep children in school and avoid unnecessary and often stigmatising mental health diagnoses.
Issues around mental health represent one of the greatest public health challenges of our time and we urge the new Cabinet Secretary to put mental health at the very heart of the Scottish Government health agenda, providing the high quality mental health support that our children and young people deserve.
Academics at a Scottish university are to be funded to look at reducing the risk of men killing themselves.
The Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) is backing a PhD scholarship at the University of Glasgow.
Suicide is the leading cause of death in men under 50 in Scotland.
The latest available figures indicated that it claimed 728 victims in a year, with about 75% of those who died being men.
SAMH said fresh research could help its work in suicide prevention.
It is thought the new programme will be the most in-depth study of its kind in the UK.
SAMH chief executive Billy Watson said: “Over the course of the last year, SAMH and the Suicidal Behaviour Research Lab have partnered together to create this research that will enhance our understanding of suicide.
“We know men are particularly at risk, especially men in their middle years. We need a deeper understanding of why some risk factors contribute to men completing suicide, compared with those, who, with the same risks factors don’t.
“We know that suicide devastates and we hope that this research will provide a greater understanding to enhance our future work on suicide prevention.”
Prof Rory O’Connor, the director of the Suicidal Behaviour Research Lab at the university, said: “We are incredibly excited to be working with SAMH on this ground-breaking research into male suicide in Scotland.
“Despite the stark reality that suicide is the leading cause of death in men under 50, we still do not fully understand the complex set of factors that account for this harrowing reality.”
He added: “Over the next three years, we are planning a series of studies to understand suicide risk in men.
“To do so, we aim to investigate the clinical, psychological and social factors that increase suicide risk, including the challenges and expectations on men and what can be done to tackle this major public health concern.”
The work of SAMH on suicide prevention is backed by footballer Charlie Adam. His father, Charlie Snr, took his own life in 2012.
It was a real blow to me losing my Dad,” the Scotland international said.
“It knocked me big time. It’s great that this research will look to understand suicide risk in men.
Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK – 84 take their own lives every week. A new campaign, Project84, aims to raise awareness and sees sculptures placed on the top of a London tower block.
“People say the wounds heal but you still have the scars,” says Jonny Sharples, whose elder brother Simon, 36, took his own life in 2014.
“I remember when it happened. I was at home on my own watching a rerun of Match of the Day and I got a phone call from my sister.
“I was in tears. I went down to see her in Staines, where she lives, and then we saw my parents in Cornwall. It was Christmas, which made it more difficult.
“Simon adored Christmas, even in his thirties he would get up at five in the morning and wake everyone else up to open presents.
“It was difficult to be together [after his death], to look around a room and see he was absent.”
Jonny is helping to remember his brother through the Project84 campaign, set up by the charity CALM.
Eighty-four sculptures have been erected on top of London Television Centre, with each figure representing one of the men, each week on average, who ends their life.
The campaign aims to raise awareness about the prevalence and devastating impact of male suicide in the UK. And the fact that mental health issues affect people from all sections of society.
Jonny says of his brother: “He was a normal, level-headed and unremarkable in many respects. But to anyone who knew him he was a really special person. He was always smiling and making you laugh.
“He’d always give you an honest answer, would always give you a helping hand.”
Away from friends and family, though, Simon – a father of one – was suffering. A year of upheaval saw him change jobs and move out of his Preston home. In December 2014 he took his own life.
“It’s only with the benefit of hindsight you knew he wasn’t quite himself,” Jonny says.
“When he was watching football or playing golf, doing the things he loved, he was distracted. He was not quite as smiley but was still enjoying himself.
“It’s only with the knowledge that he did end up taking his own life that things fall into place. His death was maybe the missing piece of the jigsaw.”
Marcus Chapman was 33 when his best friend Nelson Pratt, from Hampshire, and also 33, took his own life.
The two met on a snowboarding course in France and, after just a week, decided to move in together.
“Nelson was very old fashioned British gent, impeccably polite, moral and well-mannered but also incredibly talented,” says Marcus. “He was very self-deprecating. He had the chance to be arrogant but chose to be the opposite.”
Nelson had a successful snowboarding career and became a coach for some of Britain’s Olympic riders.
He had a supportive and loving family, but as his friends began to settle down and have children he found himself conflicted.
“The stage of life he was at, a lot of us were settling down, getting married and having families and I think Nelson had a lot of different pressures,” says Marcus.
“Balancing his snowboarding career with jobs back in the UK. There was definitely a bit of a wrestle there.”
Nelson sought help, however, Marcus feels he was “let down”.
“Nelson went to see his GP, there was a waiting list for therapy and he was given an online course to do. Two days later he took his own life.”
The experiences of men who take their own lives vary, but those left behind are unified on how society should prevent their stories recurring.
They say stigmas and stereotypes need to be abandoned and avenues for support must be opened up.
“The myth is that someone who takes their own life is weak,” says Jonny. “I don’t think for a moment my brother was a weak person. I think he was very strong.
“We need to create a society where men are comfortable to talk about how they are feeling in the knowledge that the person they are speaking to will offer them the best help and solutions they can.”
Marcus adds: “It’s about having those very early conversations, sometimes close family members are the hardest people to talk to. That’s why things like the CALM helpline are so important.