'DEVASTATING loss" – calls for comprehensive country-wide support have been made as the latest figures show suicide in Scotland rose to the highest level in almost a decade.

The figures, released by National Records of Scotland (NRS) cover 2019 and confirm 833 probable suicides.

That compares with 784 during the previous year.

Almost two thirds of cases involved men, with people in the 45-54 age category most affected. However, cases involving women aged 15-25 increased, as did suicides involving over-55s.

Residents of poorer parts of Scotland were three times more likely to take their own lives than their wealthier counterparts.

The total is the highest recorded since 2011, when 889 incidents took place.

Rachel Cackett, executive director of Samaritans Scotland, said: "Every single one of the 833 deaths by suicide in 2019 represents a devastating loss with far-reaching consequences for family, friends and communities.

"It’s particularly concerning to see rates of suicide increase for almost all age groups and for rates among young people under 25 continuing to rise this year."​

Rose Fitzpatrick, chair of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG), cautioned: “Suicide prevention has never been more important. While today’s figures predate Covid-19, the pandemic is likely to have a long-term impact on wellbeing and mental health as people’s lives change.

"For that reason, we have recommended and the Scottish Government will now take forward the creation of a long-term suicide prevention strategy which includes but goes beyond mental health to address issues affecting people’s life circumstances, such as equalities, employment and the economy.

"As today’s figures show, it remains the case that the tragedy of suicide is three times more likely to occur among those living in the most deprived areas of Scotland than it is in the least deprived."

And Claire Sweeney of Public Health Scotland said: "Each of these deaths are a tragedy arising from profound distress, and are all preventable. They will have left immeasurable grief across families and communities.

"The unprecedented challenges we have all faced in 2020 perhaps make it easier to understand that anyone can experience mental illness.

"Public Health Scotland is prioritising improving mental wellbeing as part of our strategic plan.

For help with mental health, call NHS24 on 111, Samaritans on 116 123 or Breathing Space on 0800 83 58 87.