Creating Hope Together: suicide prevention action plan 2022 to 2025

Scotland's Suicide Prevention Action Plan covering the period from 2022 to 2025.

Introduction and vision

  • This action plan details the actions for the next 3 years, which implements the first stage of the Scottish Government and COSLA’s 10 year suicide prevention strategy, and the four long term outcomes it sets out. To achieve the vision we must deliver across these long term outcomes which together will affect change across our society, services, communities, and individual experiences.
  • Much has been achieved since the publication of Choose Life, Scotland’s first suicide prevention strategy in 2002 – at both a national and local level. This action plan is intended to be ambitious and build on this strong foundation.
  • Over the last four years, the suicide prevention action plan Every Life Matters continued to build momentum across a wide programme of activity. Key deliverables include: new tools and guidance to support local planning and evaluation, strengthened delivery of training and development of new learning resources, new work to raise awareness and reduce stigma of suicide (including through the United to Prevent Suicide social movement), and the design and testing of new approaches for people in suicidal crisis and following a bereavement. Importantly, that action plan has also brought about a progressive way of working, with strong leadership and expertise, coupled with lived experience insight and academic research. We have much to value and build upon.
  • This action plan identifies what areas we will continue to focus on, what new areas we will initiate, and areas of future work to support delivery of the long term outcomes.
  • The action plan already reflects the suicide prevention work required to support the COVID-19 recovery. However, we appreciate that socio-economic issues, such as the cost of living crisis, have the potential to exacerbate many of the factors we know contribute to suicide. It is therefore timely that this strategy takes a whole of Government and society approach where we recognise the need to address financial inequity, debt, homelessness and child poverty, among other factors and child poverty, among other factors. We will also retain flexibility for innovation and respond to any changes that arise over the life of this action plan. We will review the future areas of work identified at the mid-point of the action plan.
  • We recognise that public, private and third sectors – as well as communities and individuals – all have a part to play in the partnership approach we have to preventing suicide in Scotland. This action plan will be achieved by everyone working together which will include sharing resources and learning.
  • We also recognise the need for a wide range of national and local government policies pulling together to address structural and social issues linked to suicide risk.
  • We will seek to deliver the actions within this action plan in an integrated way – working across actions and outcomes – in order to make a difference in our communities. By communities we mean both the places where we live, and the groups we connect with. We will also ensure that actions are relevant across the life stages to ensure we reach and support children and young people, adults and older adults. Through our engagement, we heard that often children and young people do not always see where action is relevant to them. To help with this we have highlighted with ** the actions which apply to children and young people to ensure their needs continue to be addressed, as the action plan is implemented.
  • The actions in this plan are designed to support delivery of the four long term outcomes and are built around 6 action areas as set out below.
    • Action area One: Whole of Government and society approach
    • Action area Two: Access to means
    • Action area Three: Media reporting
    • Action area Four: Learning and building capacity
    • Action area Five: Supporting compassionate responses
    • Action area Six: Data, evidence and planning

Activating this plan:

There are key steps required over the coming months to activate this action plan:

1. A work plan will be developed in partnership with key delivery partners that will detail the level at which actions will be delivered – e.g. national, local, regional (or a combination), lead partners, resourcing and timescales. The work plan will include the actions which will continue from Every Life Matters plus the new actions identified in this action plan.

2. Work to transition from current structures to embed the new delivery and governance structures

3. Finalisation and publication of the outcomes framework which will include key indicators to measure progress in delivering the action plan.

Delivering and overseeing this action plan

To deliver this plan we will build on our existing delivery and governance structures, ensuring they are sustainable and inclusive. This will drive progress and provide opportunities to build and share learning on suicide prevention.

  • Making some adjustments to the role of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) so that it can champion and drive suicide prevention through a partnership approach; advise Scottish Government and COSLA on progress of the strategy and any changes needed to direction / priorities; and, advise the Delivery Collective on delivery. We will include new members to ensure our leadership group offers a wider representation of people’s lived experience of suicide, organisations focused on poverty and minority groups, and organisations working in key settings, such as justice and education. The NSPLG will produce an annual report to Scottish Government and COSLA about progress towards indicators as well as advice on future direction, and priorities. We plan the first report at the mid-point of this action plan, to allow time for the new plan to bed in
  • We will create a Scottish Delivery Collective which will be a Scotland wide delivery team on suicide prevention. It will bring together local practitioners with the national implementation team and harness insights from the Academic Advisory Group (AAG), Lived Experience Panel (LEP) and Youth Advisory Group (YAG). The Collective will use an agile planning and delivery approach and constantly develop and evaluate effective strategies to improve our reach and support for people who are at risk of suicide, including using technology. Public Health Scotland will play a key role in supporting the Collective to put knowledge into action and building an active learning approach
  • NSPLG and / or the Delivery Collective will be connected into wider Scottish Government governance structures to ensure strategic connections are made, including work to address the social determinants of mental health, which we know are very similar to those impacting on suicide
  • Local leadership and accountability for suicide prevention will sit with Chief Officers in line with public protection guidance. As part of this role Chief Officers will connect into Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) which will help ensure suicide prevention is considered as a priority in the wider strategic context, and that all local partners are engaged and supportive
  • As well as our structures, we recognise the importance of a creating a dynamic and engaged suicide prevention community in Scotland, with networks and gatherings to bring together communities and professionals across sectors, to share knowledge and strengthen understanding of best practice. This will also help us achieve our underpinning philosophy that “Suicide Prevention is Everyone’s Business”.

Resourcing the Action Plan

In the 2021-22 Programme for Government the Scottish Government committed to double the specific annual funding available for suicide prevention over the course of the current Parliamentary term, from £1.4 million to £2.8 million. The funding will directly support the ambition set out in this strategy, which is intended to create positive change across all our communities – both communities of place, and communities of interest.

Indirect funding

We will ensure suicide prevention is considered across all mental health policy and programmes, including those focussed on early intervention and prevention. The Mental Health & Wellbeing Communities funding for adults (£15 million amount in 2022-2023) is a good example where suicide prevention is already a priority. Through our national suicide prevention implementation leads we will actively seek to ensure that local suicide prevention projects and initiatives are supported through available funds.

The whole of Government and society policy approach also draws upon non-mental health funding and resource to support suicide prevention, for example, policies aimed at child poverty, substance use, and debt. We will continue to develop this approach.

Investment decisions

In developing the detailed work plan to take forward the action plan, we will scope existing and new actions to support delivery of our long term outcomes. This will include identifying delivery options and expected resource requirements (direct and indirect) for each.

Resourcing will be considered and agreed with affected partners, nationally and locally. This will ensure actions are delivered in ways that are affordable, achieve value for money, and are sustainable.

The Scottish Government will provide an indicative annual funding for suicide prevention activity, to the Delivery Collective. This will allow for the production of a draft annual budget by the Delivery Collective – using the outcomes framework as a tool to prioritise activity. The Scottish Government and COSLA will be consulted on the proposed budget, and it will be approved by Scottish Government, as budget holder.

Evaluating the Action Plan

  • We will ensure a framework is in place to track the delivery of actions and measure their impact. We will ensure there is an evaluation framework around all aspects of delivery and make tools available to support evaluation of local delivery.
  • Our outcomes framework will include a logic model and a set of indicators so that we can assess how our work is contributing to the delivery of the vision and the four long term outcomes.
  • We will build on our existing guidance to local areas and publish advice on how to identify and incorporate suicide prevention indicators at a local level.



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