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Scotland's poorest 'three times' more likely to die young

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Deprivation is associated with ill health and a shorter life

People from the most deprived parts of Scotland are three times more likely to die before they are 25 than those from the least deprived, a study has found.

The research was carried out by Prof Morag Treanor, of Heriot-Watt University, for the charity Aberlour.

Prof Treanor said the results showed the “massive inequality” between rich and poor in Scotland.

It also showed young men and boys were far more likely to die before 25 than young women and girls.

The study analysed data from the National Records of Scotland on the causes of death from 2011 to 2017.

In total there were 4,081 deaths across the seven-year period, excluding those who were less than a year old.

Most of the deaths were classified in official data as “external causes”, which includes suicides, drug and alcohol poisonings, falls and road traffic accidents as well as deaths resulting from neglect or maltreatment, assault and violence.

Prof Treanor said because the numbers who died annually were relatively small it was important to add them together to make sure there was reliable dataset.

The academic mapped the deaths against the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), which splits Scotland into 6,505 zones, ranked by their level of deprivation.

Death rates of people under 25

Prof Treanor compared the death rates in the most deprived 20% of Scottish areas with the least deprived.

She found a rate of 0.21 deaths per 1,000 people among under 25s in the poorest areas compared with a rate of 0.07 in the richest.

In all areas, young men and boys were more likely to die than young women and girls.

Figures released by the National Records of Scotland in August showed that a boy born last year in one of the 10% most deprived areas of Scotland would have a life expectancy 13 years shorter than a boy from the most affluent area.

It said a boy born in the poorer areas can expect to spend almost a third of his life (29.2%) in poor health.

The death toll caused by drugs is known to be higher in areas of deprivation.

Prof Treanor said one major reason for the higher incidence of early deaths was poverty and its impact across the whole of a child’s life.

She said this was linked to housing, neighbourhoods, health inequalities, nutrition, outdoor space, education and access to activities as well as the stresses poverty caused families.

Prof Treanor said: “The results of the research really couldn’t paint a clearer message and underlines the massive inequality between rich and poor in this country.”

Death rates for males and females under 25

Johnny Hendry, a youth worker at Aberlour’s Youthpoint Service in Govan, said: “A lot of young people we work with come from chaotic backgrounds, their parents have mental health problems, drug or alcohol addictions, and many are living in poverty.

“What young people in these situations need is somebody that’s going to listen to them, believe in them, and support them.”

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