HC Deb 21 February 1973 vol 851 cc464-5
18. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the number of deaths from suicide in each of the last five years; and how this compares with the rate in England and in other European nations.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Deaths in Scotland from suicide and self-inflicted injury in each of the years 1967 to 1971 numbered 391, 373, 362, 397 and 378, respectively.

International comparisons of these statistics are subject to considerable reservations. The most recent we have indicate that the death rate in Scotland from this cause is slightly lower than the rate in England and Wales and well below the rates in most countries in Europe.

Mr. Dempsey

I thank the Minister for revealing those interesting figures. They indicate that we are at the bottom of the European suicide league. Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the very effective voluntary organisations with very laudable objects—for example the Telephone Samaritans, who work unceasingly and talk people out of taking their lives? To what extent do the Department or the local authorities liaise with these excellent people actively or financially, or both?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on putting this Question, which has elicited a most interesting statistic about the position of Scotland in the European league. I join him in paying tribute to the work done by the Telephone Samaritans. I assure him that there is very good liaison between the Telephone Samaritans and the social work departments in different areas. We pay a grant to the Telephone Samaritans which helps to encourage their development and the training of volunteers in a very important aspect of voluntary work.

Sir F. Maclean

Does my hon. Friend agree that these figures reflect great credit on the present administration?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

It is interesting that the figures for 1971, the first full year of the present Tory Government, show an improvement on those for the previous year. I go even further and point out that they demonstrate the great pleasantness of living in Scotland.