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Reducing Suicide and Self Harm

The Scottish Government is committed to reducing suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy that has a far reaching impact on family, friends and community long after a person has died.

There has been a strong downward trend in the suicide rate in Scotland over the last decade.  Over the period 2002-6 to 2012-16 the rate of suicide in Scotland reduced by 17 %.  The number of deaths by suicide in Scotland in 2015 was the lowest in a single year since 1974. Our Suicide Prevention Strategy focuses on key areas that we believe will continue the downward trend in suicides:

Areas for action in the Suicide Prevention Strategy

The Strategy to reduce suicide focuses on five key themes of work in communities and in services and we make 11 commitments that will continue the downward trend in suicides and contribute to the delivery of the National Outcome to enable people to live longer, healthier lives. The key themes are:

  • A   Responding to people in distress
  • B   Talking about suicide
  • C   Improving the NHS response to suicide
  • D   Developing the evidence base
  • E   Supporting change and improvement

 

Self-harm

We know that many people who die by suicide have a history of self-harm, and also that the relationship between suicide and self-harm is complex. For that reason we have limited the scope of the Strategy to suicide and suicidal self-harm. Our first commitment was to undertake separate work, in 2014, on supporting people at risk of non-fatal self-harm, including those in distress.

Several stakeholder events were held in 2014 and 2015 (Perth, Edinburgh and Glasgow) to consider how we might reshape and improve how we respond to people in distress. Key issues and themes emerging from discussion at these events have infomed the development of a proposed Distress Brief Intervention, which is to be piloted in 4 areas across Scotland.  Development work for the pilot began in Summer 2016, with the first pilot (Lanarkshire) going live in June 2017.  The remaining 3 pilots are to go live in October 2017.

Summary

The Strategy continues the trend in previous strategies to focus on where the evidence leads. It echoes key messages – learned from practice and research – that suicide is preventable, that it is everyone’s business and that collaborative working is key to successful suicide prevention.

We want this Strategy to help support better outcomes for people who are suicidal and who come to services, to their families and carers, to those not in contact with services, and to continue to improve our knowledge of what works in this complex field.

Next Strategy

Later in 2017 the Scottish Government will engage with stakeholders to inform the development of a new Suicide Prevention Action Plan, for publication in early 2018.