TWO-THIRDS of people who die by suicide in Scotland have some contact with health services in the year prior to their death.

A new report highlights that over a quarter of those who took their own life had attended accident and emergency departments within just three months of their death.

Around 60 per cent had at least one mental health drug prescription dispensed within 12 months of death.

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The Scottish Suicide Information Database also gives detailed insight into the age, gender, marital status, employment status, occupations, levels of deprivation and other circumstances of the 5,119 deaths by suicide from 2009-2015.

The Samaritans charity called for better care for people in crisis and those at risk of suicide after the NHS Health Scotland report was published.

James Jopling, executive director for Scotland at Samaritans, said: “Whilst a sizeable minority of those who take their own lives in Scotland are not in contact with healthcare services prior to death, this important report highlights that a large proportion have been.

“We fully support all efforts to make us all more aware of suicide risks amongst friends and family, but we must also ensure that those professionals that come into contact with people at risk of suicide have the right training and resources to identify, engage and effectively support them.

“We don’t want to miss any chance to change someone’s life.”

He added: ‘The report also tells us that of those who do attend A&E in the three months before they take their own life, nearly 40 per cent die within just a week of their last visit.

“We welcome recent Scottish Government initiatives such as the ‘distress brief intervention’ programme designed to better meet the needs of people who are struggling, but this report suggests there is clearly much more we can do.”

Recent statistics from National Records of Scotland show that the number of suicides has risen for the first time in six years.

The suicide prevention charity says resourcing and equipping more professionals with suicide awareness and prevention skills needs to be addressed as part of the Scottish Government’s new suicide prevention action plan, due to be published early next year.

The Scottish Government said it is “engaging families, individuals and communities directly affected by suicide to develop a new suicide prevention action plan for publication next year”.