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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Reduction in young male suicide in Scotland

Cameron Stark12*, Diane Stockton3 and Rob Henderson4

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Rural Health, University of Aberdeen, The Greenhouse, Beechwood Business Park, Inverness IV2 3BL, UK

2 Department of Public Health, NHS Highland, Assynt House, Beechwood Park, Inverness, IV2 3BW, UK

3 Information Services Division, NHS National Services Scotland, Gyle Square, 1 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh EH12 9EB, UK

4 Department of Public Health, NHS Grampian, Summerfield House, 2 Eday Road, Aberdeen AB15 6RE, UK

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:80  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-80

Published: 29 February 2008



Rates of suicide and undetermined death increased rapidly in Scotland in the 1980's and 1990's. The largest increases were in men, with a marked increase in rates in younger age groups. This was associated with an increase in hanging as a method of suicide. National suicide prevention work has identified young men as a priority group. Routinely collected national information suggested a decrease in suicide rates in younger men at the beginning of the 21st century. This study tested whether this was a significant change in trend, and whether it was associated with any change in hanging rates in young men.


Joinpoint regression was used to estimate annual percentage changes in age-specific rates of suicide and undetermined intent death, and to identify times when the trends changed significantly. Rates of deaths by method in 15 – 29 year old males and females were also examined to assess whether there had been any significant changes in method use in this age group.


There was a 42% reduction in rates in 15 – 29 year old men, from 42.5/100,000 in 2000 to 24.5/100,000 in 2004. A joinpoint analysis confirmed that this was a significant change. There was also a significant change in trend in hanging in men in this age group, with a reduction in rates after 2000. No other male age group showed a significant change in trend over the period 1980 – 2004. There was a smaller reduction in suicide rates in women in the 15 – 29 year old age group, with a reduction in hanging from 2002.


There has been a reduction in suicide rates in men aged 15 – 29 years, and this is associated with a significant reduction in deaths by hanging in this age group. It is not clear whether this is related to a change in method preference, or an overall reduction in suicidal behaviour, and review of self-harm data will be required to investigate this further.