choose life: A National Strategy and Action Plan to Prevent Suicide in Scotland
As part of its aims to improve the overall health of the people of Scotland and achieve greater social justice, the Scottish Executive has launched 'Choose Life' a National Strategy and Action Plan aimed at addressing the rising rate of suicide in Scotland. Currently over 600 people in Scotland commit suicide every year (with a further 200 deaths of undetermined cause), one of the highest rates in Western Europe.
This strategy and the actions to be taken form a key part of the work of the National Programme to Improve Mental Health and Well-Being. From this programme the Scottish Executive is allocating 12 million over the next three years to directly complement and support national and local actions. This is to ensure that 'Choose Life' is implemented effectively through a co-ordinated programme of activity involving national and local agencies, local community-based initiatives, voluntary organisations and self-help groups.
This investment is part of the increased investment recently announced by the Scottish Executive in improving Scotland's overall health and complements the increases in funding announced in the Scottish Executive's Draft Budget 2003-04 for public sector services and initiatives including Health, Education and Social Justice.
This is the first phase of a comprehensive 10-year plan with the ultimate goal of reducing the suicide rate in Scotland by 20% by 2013. The following phase, from 2006 to 2012, will be determined following evaluation, review and assessment of results from the initial phase of activity.
Clear objectives have been set for implementation at both a national and local level. These include:
raising awareness of the risk factors associated with suicidal behaviour;
ensuring earlier and more effective care and support;
improving and increasing the provision of services;
removing the stigma that people can feel about seeking help for emotional and mental health problems so that people get help when they need it most;
providing effective and sympathetic support to family members, friends and loved ones affected by suicidal behaviour and completed suicide;
supporting the media to ensure that the depiction and reporting of suicide and suicidal behaviour is done in a sensitive and appropriate way; and
improving the quality, collection, availability and dissemination of relevant information to ensure better design and implementation of services.
Suicidal behaviour affects all aspects of society and this National Strategy and Action Plan emphasises the need for a combined and collective approach encompassing all Scottish Executive departments, together with input and action from a wide range of agencies and organisations throughout Scotland including health and social care professionals, teachers, community and youth workers, voluntary organisations, self-help groups, families, friends and the public as a whole.
Reducing the rate of suicide is not something we can change overnight and tackling it requires addressing a number of long-standing societal problems. But, as this National Strategy and Action Plan indicates, commitment, collaboration and collective action are vital first steps.