Date lodged: 7 September 2018
To ask the Scottish Government whether its suicide figures include a breakdown by the number of suicides by veterans and, if not, whether it will consider collecting this information.
Answered by: Clare Haughey 13 September 2018
Veterans' suicides are not officially recorded – that is, the recording of employment on death certificates is that of last paid employment.
The Scottish Government funds the Scottish Suicide Information Database (ScotSID), hosted by the Information Services Division (ISD) of NHS Scotland. This is an important database containing the death records of all probable suicides occurring in Scotland from January 2009. Because the recording of employment on death certificates is that of last paid employment, “veteran” would not be included here as it is not an occupation category. We are therefore working closely with ISD to explore and improve the collection of data on veterans who have had contact with NHS mental health services. Once established, this information will then be used to highlight those who are at risk - and what support they need.
On the specific issue of recording and publishing data on suicides by veterans, the Scottish Government is also exploring with ISD how data from the NHS central register – which includes an option to record data on Armed Forces enlistment and discharge – can be transferred to ScotSID to help identify veterans. This information could then be included in future annual publications of ScotSID from 2019.
Our new Suicide Prevention Action Plan sets out more detail on actions to support suicide prevention in the general population, which includes veterans. Recognising the need to constantly improve our knowledge on suicide, the new Action Plan specifically addresses the development of appropriate reviews into all deaths from suicide. This is to ensure that learning from every death by suicide, including by veterans, is used to reduce the risk of future suicides.