THE suicide rate in Scotland fell by almost a fifth over the past decade, new figures show.

The statistics, published by National Records of Scotland and ISD Scotland, cover the period of the Scottish Government's Choose Life suicide prevention strategy, which ran from 2002 to 2013.

There were 795 suicides registered in Scotland in 2013 - a 19 per cent reduction since 2002, and close to the target of a 20 per cent reduction.

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Health Minister Michael Matheson said it was very encouraging to see such a significant reduction. "A 19 per cent reduction over a decade is testament to the dedication of many people, across the NHS and beyond, who work tirelessly to help people who might be at risk of taking their lives.

"At the end of last year I launched our new Suicide Prevention Strategy for 2013-16. This strategy sets out a range of commitments designed to continue this downward trend, and to further increase our understanding of suicide."

Alana Atkinson, lead for the National Programme for Suicide Prevention at NHS Health Scotland, said: "NHS Health Scotland has led the national programme for suicide prevention on behalf of the Scottish Government since 2008. Choose Life was a ground-breaking strategy and action plan that brought individuals and organisations together from across Scotland to work in partnership to prevent suicide in innovative and effective ways." She said Health Scotland would continue to contribute to the momentum they have gathered.