Suicide prevention strategy welcomed

Suicide web

The Scottish Government aims to cut deaths by suicide by a fifth over the next four years

9th August 2018 by Gareth Jones 1 Comment

Charities have welcomed a much anticipated strategy on reducing suicides in Scotland.

The Scottish Government published its Suicide Prevention Action Plan this week – as it looks to cut deaths by a fifth over the next four years.

A draft strategy published in the spring was criticised by the Samaritans for failing to show ambition – however the finalised strategy has received a warmer welcome by mental health groups.

Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) chief executive Billy Watson said: “We welcome Scotland’s Suicide Prevention Action, which shows ambition and commitment to making suicide prevention a national priority.

“We have been encouraged by the decrease in the number of deaths by suicide in recent years, however we cannot become complacent. When someone dies by suicide, it has an impact like no other.”

The initiative will see a new body created which will be responsible for co-ordinating national campaigns, reviewing data and guidance on suicide and making recommendations on supporting the development and delivery of local prevention action plans.

Lee Knifton, head of Mental Health Foundation Scotland said: “We campaigned vigorously for the creation of a new national body to drive forward suicide prevention work and we’re pleased to see it at the heart of the new action plan.

“While mental health has taken a more prominent place on the political agenda over the past decade, disappointingly suicide prevention lost impetus. We believe that the new leadership group can help instil new drive and ambition in tackling suicide in Scotland.”

Samaritans’ executive director for Scotland, James Jopling, said: “We firstly need to thank everyone with direct experience of suicide who contributed to the development of this plan. It is through your bravery and determination that we now have a vital opportunity to ensure that no one affected by suicide in Scotland is alone.

“While we welcome the formation of this group and the funding that will be available, with actions so dependent on the group to deliver, it is too early to tell whether this plan will produce the much hoped for changes we need. With the level of responsibility given to the group, it is even more vital that the chair and the Mental Health Minister provide strong leadership and direction.”

Chief Executive of the ALLIANCE, Prof Ian Welsh said: “The Scottish Government’s Action Plan offers an opportunity to coordinate effective support and services, create more training opportunities for people working across Scotland in suicide prevention strategies and raise public awareness. We are also pleased to note the emphasis placed on the role of people with lived experience of suicide within the action plan. These are all crucial steps in working together to identify and support the people most at risk of suicide and those closest to them.”

A total of 680 people killed themselves in Scotland in 2017, a rate of 12.5 per 100,000. This is largely unchanged over the past four years, with an overall downward trend over recent years from a rate of 18 per 100,000 in 2002.

The strategy includes plans to review all deaths by suicide so lessons can be learned, use technology to help prevent suicide and create new public awareness campaigns.

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said: “We want a Scotland where suicide is preventable, and where anyone contemplating suicide or who has lost a loved one gets the support they need.

“This plan sets out how the Scottish Government and our partners will achieve this and it makes clear that suicide prevention is everyone’s business. Our approach recognises the need to work together across sectors and organisations to identify and support people in distress, strengthen communities, and save lives.”

10th August 2018 by Marion Brown

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