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by Jenni Davidson
10 August 2018
Suicide action plans aims to reduce suicides in Scotland by 20 per cent

Suicide action plans aims to reduce suicides in Scotland by 20 per cent

Person holding their head in their hands - Image credit: PA Images

Scotland’s suicide rate will be reduced by 20 per cent by 2022, according to a new action plan launched by the Scottish Government.

Scotland’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan sets out ten measures to reduce the country’s rate of deaths by suicide, supported by a £3m innovation fund.

Implementation will be carried out by a National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) chaired by former Police Scotland deputy chief constable Rose Fitzpatrick from September 2018.

Actions include creating and implementing refreshed mental health and suicide prevention training by May 2019 for Scotland’s public and private sectors, with all NHS staff to receive training.

It also calls for reviews of all deaths by suicide, ensuring lessons are shared with partners and acted on, developing innovative ways to use digital technology to prevent suicide, and public awareness campaigns.

The delayed plan was developed following engagement with mental health and suicide prevention organisations, people affected by suicide, and academics.

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey launched the plan during a visit to the Men’s SHARE suicide prevention project in Midlothian.

She said: “Over the past decade, Scotland has made real progress in reducing deaths by suicide but we have far more to do.

“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.”

Rose Fitzpatrick said: “It is an honour to be asked to chair the new National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group. 

“I am deeply aware of the significance and importance of the group’s work, and confident that by working closely with a range of partners to take on the range of important actions in this national plan, we can all make a real difference.”

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.

“We are pleased to see a number of SAMH calls have been agreed and included in the action plan, particularly a national target of 20 per cent reduction of suicides by 2022.

“We look forward to playing a leading role in implementing this new action plan.”

Between 2002-2006 and 2013-2017, the death by suicide rate in Scotland fell by 20 per cent.

Scottish local government body COSLA gave its support to the plan, with Spokesperson for Health and Social Care, Councillor Peter Johnston, saying: “COSLA supports the Scottish Government’s vision of a Scotland where suicide is preventable and in order to drive the reduction in suicide rates we all wish to see, every part of the system has a role to play. 

“That requires leadership from both Scottish and Local Government. 

“We welcome the appointment of Rose Fitzpatrick as chair of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group and look forward to working with the group as it develops its recommendations to COSLA and ministers.”

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