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.”
A grieving mum has demanded an overhaul of mental health services after it emerged dozens of people have taken their own lives in Dundee despite seeking help.
The proportion of suicide victims in the city who have attended a psychiatric appointment in the year leading up to their deaths is higher than in any other part of the country, official data revealed.
Mandy Mclaren, whose son 28-year-old son Dale died in 2011 shortly after discharging himself from the Carseview Centre in Dundee, said the new figures were evidence that people are being let down by NHS Tayside’s mental health services.
“To me the whole system is failing,” she said.
“That amount of people committing suicide is absolutely shocking. It does not get any easier.
“You hope they will learn by their mistakes, but they’re not.”
In nearly half (46%) of the 164 suicides in Dundee between 2011 and 2017, the victim had a psychiatric outpatient appointment in the 12 months before their death, which is the highest rate in the country.
The Scottish Suicide Information Database, which was published on Tuesday, showed there were 769 probable suicides in Tayside and Fife during that period. The national total was 5,204.
A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside said every suicide was a tragedy and was “comprehensively reviewed by the Tayside multi-agency Suicide Review Group to look at the circumstances surrounding each individual case”.
Rose Fitzpatrick, chair of the Scottish Government’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group, said: “The Scottish suicide rate fell by 20% between 2002-06 and 2013-17, and we are committed to reducing this by another 20% over the next four years.”
People have until December 14 to give evidence to an independent inquiry into mental health services in Tayside.
Visit www.suicidehelp.co.uk or phone Samaritans on Freephone 116 123.
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.
The Scottish government has ordered a review of mental health services for young people in custody.
It follows recent deaths at Polmont Young Offenders Institution.
Sixteen-year-old William Lindsay died while on remand there in October and 21-year-old Katie Allan took her life in June while detained for a drink-driving offence.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the review would involve a mental health expert and HM Inspectorate of Prisons.
The review is expected to report back early next year.
It will look at mental health provision for young people entering custody, including background information ahead of their admission, reception arrangements, and ongoing support and supervision while in custody.
Mr Yousaf announced the review in a letter to the Scottish Parliament’s justice and health committees.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has also confirmed that NHS Forth Valley has already engaged with the Scottish Prison Service to assess and increase provision for people living at Polmont.
In his letter, Mr Yousaf said that although fatal accident inquiries would be undertaken into the deaths of William Lindsay (also known as William Brown) and Katie Allan “I have reflected on some of the more immediate questions raised particularly around the provision of mental health support and services for young people in custody”.
He said the review would look at relevant operational policies, practice and training and where practical, would also look at comparisons between the support and arrangements in place in secure care accommodation and HMP&YOI Polmont.
He added: “As with current formal inspection and independent monitoring arrangements for prisons, the review will include direct engagement with young people in custody about their experiences.
“The review will not consider the specific circumstances of recent cases which are the subject of current or future mandatory fatal accident inquiries.
“We are also aware of issues being raised about the information that is available about a young person’s history before decisions are taken that can lead to them being sent to custody or secure care. Separate consideration is being given to how best to look at these issues.”
Ms Allan, a 21-year-old geography student at Glasgow University, was convicted in March of a drink-driving offence which saw her injure a pedestrian and she was sentenced to 16 months in jail.
Stuart and Linda Allan said their daughter was bullied in Polmont YOI near Falkirk and lost more than 80% of her hair due to the state of her mental health. She died there in July.
They had called for a review of the Scottish prison system.
Mr Lindsay, who was also known as William Brown, was one of four deaths in the space of two days at Scottish jails last month.
An entry on the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) website states he was remanded at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Thursday 4 October.
He died on Sunday 7 October.
Lawyer Aamer Anwar, representing the families of Ms Allan and Mr Brown, said they cautiously welcomed the announcement of a review.
“The deaths of Katie and William were never inevitable, the system and the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) failed them,” he said.
“The families of Katie Allan and William Lindsay expect and demand a lot more to happen in the days and weeks ahead.
“Today is a good start, but the families hold Polmont responsible for suicides which took place, ultimately they failed in their duty of care.
“If this review is independent then the families wait to see the proof of that as they must be fearless in the questions they ask.”
A city-wide poster campaign featuring images and words relating to mental health is to be unveiled on the streets of Dundee.
As part of the Foolish Optimism roadshow, two young women are taking art workshops out into the community, encouraging a range of different groups to talk about and document their mental health stories.
Jacqueline Goodall, 20, a third-year fine art student at Duncan of Jordanstone College, is organising the workshops in conjunction with Jacqueline Whymark, who is a social entrepreneur, project manager, community organiser and arts curator.
They held their first two-day session with a group at Arthurstone Library last month.
After watching short clips from the Foolish Optimism film, members of the group were asked to consider its messages and jot down their own interpretation and perspectives on mental health issues, whether in words or images.
Messages collected from a diverse range of audiences will then be transformed into posters, some of which will be billboard size.
All the posters will then be displayed around the city from mid-November until mid-December.
The posters will also feature unique QR codes which will enable the public to link directly to the Foolish Optimism website.
The workshops and national roadshow follow on from the release of the film which premiered at The Steps Theatre on World Mental Health Day.
Jacqueline Goodall said: “The whole purpose of Foolish Optimism is to get people talking about mental health.
“We want to gather the views and stories of a huge cross-spectrum of society.
“We decided that it would make sense to go out into the communities and encourage debate.
“We all have mental health but everyone has a different interpretation of it.
“Some people find it challenging to express that interpretation.
“Some of us like to write words and poems while others are visual thinkers, preferring to draw or paint.
“We are going to take these varied and unique messages and make posters out of them to display around the city, spreading the word that young people are not alone when facing these challenges and to get people talking.”
All work created in the workshops will be maximised – if not on the posters themselves, then through exhibitions during the Foolish Optimism finale event next month.
Foolish Optimism was made possible by funding from the Year of Young People National Lottery Fund and the Life Changes Trust.
I’ve struggled with my mental health for seven years. I’ve got anorexia, and depression and anxiety. It started at school when I was 11. I don’t remember the root causes. I just started being really anxious and restricting what I ate, and hiding food. I felt so worthless and horrible. I hated the way I looked. I started self-harming, my mood was really low and it all spiralled out of control.
I didn’t understand what was going on. After a while, I thought it was normal to feel like that. It’s only recently that I’ve started realising that a lot of people suffer.
When I was 14 a friend noticed I wasn’t eating and was really withdrawn and told a teacher. I was really angry and annoyed but, looking back, I’m glad she did that because I wouldn’t have said anything. They then told my parents and I was referred to child and adolescent mental health services. I still didn’t think anything was wrong with me.
My parents were heartbroken. I can’t imagine how hard it is for them. I’ve put them through so much. I was in hospital for just under a year and they had to visit me and see me in such a distressed state. I think they found it really tough and still do.
I felt I couldn’t go out for ages. Even now, when I go on public transport I get really anxious. At its worst I used to panic, my heart beat faster and I started shaking. My thoughts would race and I would think that everyone was staring at me and that something bad was going to happen. Everything was exaggerated. Most times, I felt like I deserved self-harming. It was like a punishment for eating or going out.
There are days when I feel more optimistic about my future. Things are still hard but I’m doing a lot better than I was. Quite a few people have told me that they struggle with anxiety. It’s not fair. I know some amazing and lovely people; they don’t deserve to be going through that.
Harvey Sparrow, 16, Badsey, Worcestershire
When I started my GCSEs, my school was really pushing everyone, saying we all had to do well and work hard. I’ve always been the sort of person who is very motivated but the stress started building slowly and I couldn’t handle it. The thought of going to school made me nervous and I felt like I wasn’t good enough. It carried on and I felt a lot of sadness and hopelessness. It was awful.
I started feeling really detached from myself. I didn’t feel in control of my body. It turned out that was a type of anxiety. My stomach felt like it was churning. I’d feel sick when I knew I didn’t have a stomach virus. I lost concentration and if there was even a small doubt about me doing well, I’d lose focus. I couldn’t deal with it. It got really dark at times. I felt there was no point in me being here because I wasn’t bringing anything to the world. I wasn’t making my life any better. I had a lot of suicidal thoughts. I told my dad and we went to see the doctor. It took a few appointments for them to take me seriously.
A lot of my friends have anxiety around school. I thought everyone else was OK because people didn’t show it. Some of them lose out on sleep, some sleep way too much and some are very depressed. They don’t see a point in living. I know what it’s like. But to hear them say things like that is shocking when in my eyes they’re amazing. I guess they would have said the same thing about me. It’s a weird situation.
When I talk to my dad he says he never wants anything bad to happen to me. Now I’m in a good place, I’m like: “Why would I ever think of ever hurting myself?” I don’t want to throw my life away just because I’m in a bad place.
• In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.
Bosses at the health board aim to get rid of 1,300 posts to plug the hole in its finances, official papers revealed.
They say they can do that over several years through “natural staff turnover”, but it is feared cuts to backroom staffing will have an impact on patients.
The decision to shrink the workforce comes as the board benefits from having at least £62 million of debt written off by the Scottish Government.
The plans are revealed in an assurance report to the board from September.
It said there was an “acceptance that staff levels need to reduce by 10%”.
Gillian Murray, who has been campaigning for better mental health services after failings in the care of her late uncle, said the decision shows that “balancing the books obviously means more to them than saving lives”.
“People in Dundee are dying because NHS Tayside is a shambles and to cut the workforce is another slap in the face for all of us,” she added.
Murdo Fraser, the Conservative MSP in Perthshire, said: “Local people will be wondering what impact these massive reductions in staff will have on their already pressured services.”
Annie Ingram, NHS Tayside director of workforce, said no one will lose their job but said spending on the workforce is higher than health boards of a similar size.
She added: “We are carrying out a review of staff numbers, grades and skills, which is being carried out in partnership with our staff and our trades unions, to ensure we have a safe, affordable and sustainable workforce.”
He has called for “all those politicians who claim to care about justice or young people” to “consider their shameful silence on this issue”.
Responding to the latest case, a Scottish government spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of this young man.
“Investigations have begun ahead of the Fatal Accident Inquiry and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment on the specifics of this individual case.
“We recognise, however, that many young people entering the criminal justice system have complex needs and we work with agencies to ensure appropriate support is available when needed.”
A Crown Office spokesman said: “The investigation into the death of William Brown (or Lindsay) is ongoing and is under the direction of Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit (SFIU).
“There will be a mandatory Fatal Accident Inquiry in due course once investigations are complete.
“The family will be kept updated in relation to any significant developments.”
An SPS spokesman said: “Every death in custody is subject to a DIPLAR (Death in Prison Learning and Audit Review), which we will conduct along with partner agencies, and that process would feed into the FAI.”
Dave Barrie, service manager with Addaction, said the new strategy is being put in place following changes in the way people with an addiction to powerful opiates such as heroin are helped.
Previously, all those with heroin addictions would be referred to the NHS for treatment via Addaction.
But now users can go directly to the Tayside Substance Misuse Service, based in Constitution House.
Mr Barrie said the charity is now focusing more on people with problems with other drugs and those whose addiction to opiates isn’t at the stage of a long-term addiction.
He said: “Previously, everyone in Dundee who had an alcohol or drug problem would come through Addaction. That’s changed, and now people can go directly for NHS treatment.
“We are now looking at having a more preventative approach to substance misuse.
“We will be looking at helping people who are starting to have problems with drugs, or are recognising some concerns about their drug or alcohol intake.
“We are really looking to support people much earlier on in their alcohol or drug use.
“With the Dundee Drugs Commission being set up, the spotlight is on services in Dundee, so we really want to help people whose drug problems are less entrenched than the ones we previously helped, some of whom have been drug addicts for decades.
“It may be people with problems with other drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines. Often we find issues with these drugs can lead to problem with other drugs such as diazepam or heroin, as folk start to use these drugs to bring them down following a binge.
“We are starting to go into some hostels, chemists and GP surgeries in Dundee for drop-in sessions. If we can get into those venues, then we think we can access people sooner. What we’ve found is we can help people and point them in the direction of the support they need for other things.
“We previously had a presence in the Carseview Centre and it was received well. We realise people with mental health problems, housing problems and other health problems often have substance misuse problems and can be accessed at these places.”
Dave said another key focus would be supporting the family members of those who have drug or alcohol problems, as well as people who have lost a loved one to overdose.
He said: “We recognise that there is a huge isolation and stigma attached to drug addiction and being the parent or family member of someone who is an addict.
“If you have people around you to support you then it makes it so much easier to deal with.
“When you think of the year we have had for drugs deaths – every one of those people leaves behind extended families who are all left grieving.”