Suicide prevention strategy and action plan: consultation analysis

Analysis of responses during consultation period of the development of Creating Hope Together: Scotland's suicide prevention strategy and action plan.


The Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) published a new Suicide prevention Strategy and Action Plan in September 2022. This replaced the previous Suicide Prevention Action Plan: Every Life Matters[1] which was published in 2018.

The new strategy and action plan builds on the work already happening across Scotland – nationally and locally – to prevent suicide, whilst being ambitious and going further than before, to ensure fewer lives in Scotland are lost to suicide.

The new strategy takes an outcomes focused approach. Outcomes are the results or changes we want to see as a result of the strategy and action plan. These include changes in knowledge, awareness, skills, practice, behaviour, social action, and decision making.

The strategy aims to address the inequalities which contribute to suicide. The action plan includes actions that bring about change across the whole of government policy and society. In practice, this means the strategy and action plan sets out how suicide prevention will be embedded within existing and future policies across national and local government, and how that translates into effective action on the ground - across all sectors and communities.

The strategy will run over the course of ten years, and the initial action plan accompanying it that will run for three years.

The strategy was developed with an extensive and inclusive engagement and consultation approach. This included early engagement and a formal public consultation on the draft strategy and action. Details are set out below.

Early engagement to develop the Strategy and Action Plan

From autumn 2021 to summer 2022, the Scottish Government, COSLA and Public Health Scotland (PHS) carried out extensive early engagement with key stakeholders, partners, groups and communities across Scotland to inform the strategy and action plan - participation levels were extremely high.

We sought to ensure the views of stakeholders, partners, communities and people with lived and living experience of suicide were central to the strategy's development. The multi-stage engagement approach that was taken meant that people across Scotland helped co-produce the vision, guiding principles, outcomes and priorities of the strategy, as well as the action in the accompanying action plan.

We also engaged proactively with key sectors and partners who have a key role to play in preventing suicide, within and beyond the health and social care sector.

A range of methods were used to engage in this phase, as set out below:

  • We ran 41 online workshops. Some had a regional focus and others a national focus. Organisations, groups and individuals could self-select which type of event they wanted to attend. Participants could also attend more than one event, depending on what they wanted to focus on.
  • We ran an online survey which received 190 responses, 162 responses from individuals, and 28 responses from organisations across the public and third sector. Sectors represented included: mental health and wellbeing, children and young people's services, emergency responders, primary care, and social care.
  • We convened a series of roundtable meetings bringing together partners working in specific sectors or on particular issues. This included criminal justice, education and first responders. These events enabled greater insights and understanding on the issues they face and the actions needed.
  • We carried out one-to-one engagements with mental health services teams in each of the geographic NHS Health Boards.

We structured each of these engagement to seek feedback and data from participants on the current situation, as well as innovative ideas and best practice. Participants were also asked to identify priority areas for future action.

Responses were sought in relation to several themes:

  • prevention
  • early intervention
  • crisis intervention
  • postvention
  • tackling stigma
  • raising awareness
  • capacity building.

Participants were also asked about other policy areas, outwith health and social care, that ought to be involved in suicide prevention, such as housing, addiction, and poverty; and, to provide examples of effective practice both locally, nationally and internationally.

Further information on the early engagement process and findings can be found in the Suicide prevention strategy development: early engagement - summary report.



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