Funding can make Scotland a leader in suicide prevention

Suicide web

A £3 million fund to help deliver a new strategy to prevent suicides has been welcomed by a charity

13th June 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

New funding to help prevent suicide in Scotland has been welcomed.

The Scottish Government has unveiled a £3 million innovation fund which aims to create a leadership group to take forward a new prevention strategy.

It has been prepared through consultation with more than 100 people who have been directly affected by suicide, with 728 people having taken their own lives in 2016.

Money will be used to help deliver recommendations made in the government’s new action plan, which is set to be published before the end of this month.

The plan had drawn criticism from Samaritans Scotland, who raise concerns about the clarity of the proposals set out – however the charity has welcomed the funding announcement.

Samaritans’ executive director for Scotland, James Jopling, said: “We have heard that the Scottish Government’s new suicide prevention action plan aims to create a step change in suicide prevention in Scotland. While we welcome that, we have been clear that we could not achieve real change without funding. It is therefore very encouraging that the new action plan will have resources behind it.

“This commitment is also a sign that the proposed leadership group will have meaningful resources and ability to shape and drive national and local initiatives. We believe that Scotland can return to being a world-leader in suicide prevention if we have the resource and ambition to achieve that.”

The fund has also been welcomed by the NSPCC. Matt Forde, national head for NSPCC Scotland said: “We know that many young people across Scotland are so overwhelmed by their problems they have considered taking their own lives. Last year alone, our Childline service carried out more than 1,000 counselling sessions young people from Scotland who contacted us for help over suicidal feelings.

“This is why improved services and support for young people in Scotland are absolutely vital.  We must discover why so many feel so isolated and ensure they get the right help swiftly before these issues snowball into suicidal feelings or even attempts to end their lives.”

The Mental Health Foundation called for a dedicated service to support families bereaved by suicide to be created and mandatory training to be rolled out for key workers such as GPs and social security staff earlier this week. Policy manager Toni Giugliano described the funding as a step in the right direction.

He said: “Scotland doesn’t need a talking shop on suicide prevention – it needs a new body, fully resourced and staffed, that can provide strategic direction to local delivery groups, co-ordinate national campaigns, roll-out training to key staff across sectors and commission a full independent evaluation of the strategy.

“We’d also like to reiterate our call for a new support service for bereaved families and friends."

Mental health minister Maureen Watt said the government will work in partnership with the third sector to revamp suicide prevention.

She said: “As we begin to break down the stigma and better understand how to care for mental health the demand increases and we expect to see detailed plans for taking forward new models of support and services to improve performance, including through partnership with the third sector.

“We are also working with those who have used services to ensure that as we reshape services we reflect the needs of those seeking support and treatment and align this with medical delivery plans.”