Suicide prevention action plan: every life matters

The new action plan has been designed to continue the work from the 2013-2016 suicide prevention strategy and the strong downward trend in suicide rates in Scotland.


Suicide is death resulting from an intentional, self-inflicted act.

Suicidal behaviour comprises both completed suicide attempts and acts of self-harm that do not have a fatal outcome, but which have suicidal intent.

Non-fatal self-harm is self-poisoning or self-injury, irrespective of motivation or extent of suicide intent (excluding accidents, substance misuse and eating disorders).

Probable suicide: National Records of Scotland define probable suicides as deaths resulting from: 

  • intentional self-harm (codes X60–X84, Y87.0 of the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD10)); and 
  • events of undetermined intent (ICD10 codes Y10-Y34, Y87.2). 

Events of undetermined intent: These are cases where it is not clear whether the death was the result of intentional self-harm, an accident or an assault. National Records of Scotland combines intentional self-harm and undetermined deaths in their operational definition of ‘probable suicide’. It should be noted that some ‘undetermined intent’ deaths may not have been suicides; inclusion of these cases, therefore, probably leads to an over-estimation of the ‘true’ (but unknowable) number of suicide deaths. 

Measuring Progress against this Action Plan's target: The target to further reduce suicides by 20% will be measured using the information published by National Services Scotland through its annual report on Suicide Statistics for Scotland.

The suicide rate used in the target is calculated by adjusting the number of deaths from suicide, by age-specific rates known as the European Aged Standardised Rate (EASR). This EASR is used across the health system in Scotland, the UK and Europe to provide data that allows comparisons to be drawn over time and between nations. 

The target for Scotland will take the 5-year average for the period 2013-2017 as the baseline, and the 5–year average for the period 2018-2022 as the end date. (5-year rolling averages are used in order to smooth out year-to-year fluctuations and to give a clearer indication of longer term trends). National Services Scotland will report in mid-2023 on the performance against the target. 



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