Creating Hope Together: suicide prevention strategy 2022 to 2032

Scotland's Suicide Prevention Strategy covering the period from 2022 to 2032.

Foreword from the Minister for Mental Wellbeing & Social Care, and the Health and Social Care Spokesperson, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)

This strategy sets out the Scottish Government and COSLA’s vision for suicide prevention in Scotland over the next ten years. The strategy is supported by an initial 3 year action plan setting out the actions needed to support the vision.

Every life lost to suicide is an enormous tragedy. And every life lost leaves devastating and long lasting impacts on families, friends and communities. Up to 135 people can be affected in some way by every suicide[1]. This strategy is therefore designed to support anyone affected by suicide.

Suicide is complex, and rarely caused by one single factor. So, our approach to preventing suicide must span right across society. All our sectors must work together – and learn together – to drive change. We must also support our communities and workforce so they can play their part.

Desmond Tutu once said “There comes a point where we need to stop pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they are falling in”. That encapsulates the approach we are taking in this strategy. We are taking a whole of Government and society approach to understand the complex picture of life experiences that can lead a person to think about suicide, and then to act upon that, to prevent suicide.

Our suicide prevention work in Scotland is grounded by lived experience, guiding us every step of the way. Indeed our approach has been commended by the World Health Organisation. We give the most heartfelt thanks to every member of our Lived Experience Panel and Youth Advisory Group for their contribution, and we remain firmly committed to lived experience continuing to sit at the heart of our work.

Our research community in Scotland is also first class and we will continue to draw on their evidence and expertise, just as we have done to date.

We should recognise that much has been achieved in Scotland on suicide prevention, at a national and local level – including the social movement ‘United to Prevent Suicide’ and its fantastic campaign work, the pilot bereavement support services that are already helping families, the learning resources which are bringing greater awareness and skill in the workforce, and the resources and data we are providing to guide local action. And of course the work we are doing to support people directly – the digital advice to support people experiencing suicidal thoughts, and our ongoing work to improve suicidal crisis responses through Time, Space and Compassion.

Our work is now to redouble our efforts. The Scottish Government has committed to doubling its funding for suicide prevention over the lifetime of this Parliamentary term to support this shift.

To achieve that we will take a whole population approach to suicide prevention. Our actions must therefore be designed to support people at all life stages – from childhood right through to older years. We recognise however, that tailored approaches are often needed to meet the needs of children and young people, and that is a central theme across this strategy. Finally, we must acknowledge and respond to the factors which make people more or less likely to experience suicidal thoughts.

While Scottish Government and COSLA have responsibility for delivering this strategy, we will only be successful by working together with partners across all sectors and communities. This strategy seeks to build on our already strong suicide prevention platform in Scotland – by creating new opportunities for collaboration, learning and innovation. We recognise that public, private and third sectors – as well as communities and individuals – all have a part to play in our shared ambition to prevent suicide in Scotland. Leadership and partnership therefore sit at the heart of this strategy, enabling us to deliver our shared aspiration that suicide prevention is Everyone’s Business.

The work to develop this strategy has helped to strengthen our platform for suicide prevention. We have reached into new communities, organisations, groups – and of course engaged with people with lived, and living, experience of suicide. Their contributions have been incredibly rich – and essential – in shaping this strategy. Our National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group community has also been a driving force in this new strategy – bringing new strategic insight and ambition.

We look forward to working with you all too, as we take forward this strategy – with renewed passion, insight and ambition.

Kevin Stewart MSP Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care

Councillor Paul Kelly COSLA Spokesperson for Health and Social Care


Our vision is to reduce the number of suicide deaths in Scotland, whilst tackling the inequalities which contribute to suicide.

To achieve this, all sectors must come together in partnership, and we must support our communities so they become safe, compassionate, inclusive, and free of stigma.

Our aim is for any child, young person or adult who has thoughts of taking their own life, or are affected by suicide, to get the help they need and feel a sense of hope.

Guiding Principles

1. We will consider inequalities and diversity – to ensure we meet the suicide prevention needs of the whole population whilst taking into account key risk factors, such as poverty, and social isolation. We will ensure our work is relevant for urban, rural, remote and island communities

2. We will co-develop our work alongside people with lived, and living, experience (ensuring that experience reflects the diversity of our communities and suicidal experiences). We will also ensure safeguarding measures are in place across our work.

3. We will ensure the principles of Time, Space, Compassion are central to our work to support people’s wellbeing and recovery. This includes people at risk of suicide, their families/carers and the wider community, respectful of their human rights.

4. We will ensure the voices of children and young people are central to work to address their needs, and co-develop solutions with them.

5. We will provide opportunities for people across different sectors at local and national levels to come together, learn and connect – inspiring them to play their part in preventing suicide.

6. We will take every opportunity to reduce the stigma of suicide through our work.

7. We will ensure our work is evidence informed, and continue to build the evidence base through evaluation, data and research. We will also use quality improvement approaches, creativity and innovation to drive change – this includes using digital solutions.


Outcome 1:

The environment we live in promotes conditions which protect against suicide risk – this includes our psychological, social, cultural, economic and physical environment.

Outcome 2:

Our communities have a clear understanding of suicide, risk factors and its prevention – so that people and organisations are more able to respond in helpful and informed ways when they, or others, need support.

Outcome 3:

Everyone affected by suicide is able to access high quality, compassionate, appropriate and timely support – which promotes wellbeing and recovery. This applies to all children, young people and adults who experience suicidal thoughts and behaviour, anyone who cares for them, and anyone affected by suicide in other ways.

Outcome 4:

Our approach to suicide prevention is well planned and delivered, through close collaboration between national, local and sectoral partners. Our work is designed with lived experience insight, practice, data, research and intelligence. We improve our approach through regular monitoring, evaluation and review.

Priority Areas

Build a whole of Government and whole society approach to address the social determinants which have the greatest link to suicide risk

Strengthen Scotland’s awareness and responsiveness to suicide and people who are suicidal

Promote & provide effective, timely, compassionate support – that promotes wellbeing and recovery

Embed a coordinated, collaborative, and integrated approach



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