National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group minutes: December 2019

Minutes of the meeting of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group, held on 4 December 2019.

Attendees and apologies


  • Ms Rose Fitzpatrick (Chair) 
  • Mr George Dodds
  • Ms Fiona Drouet
  • Chief Superintendent Davie Duncan
  • Mr Toni Giugliano
  • Mr Nigel Henderson
  • Dr John Mitchell
  • Ms Jane O’Donnell
  • Ms Nicky Reid
  • Ms Angela Scott
  • Mr Billy Watson 

In attendance:

  • Ms Innes Fyfe (Scottish Government)
  • Mr Andy Grierson (Programme Manager)
  • Professor Rory O’Connor (Academic Advisory Group)
  • Professor Steve Platt (Academic Advisory Group)
  • Mr Craig Wilson (Scottish Government)

Guest speakers:

  • Ms Ruth Moss, Action 4 and 5 delivery lead
  • Ms Julie Cameron, Mental Health Foundation Researcher
  • Ms Susan Solomon, Mental Health Foundation Researcher
  • Ms Jo Anderson, Action 3 Co delivery lead
  • Ms Shirley Windsor, Action 3 Co delivery Lead
  • The Union, Creative Agency


  • Dr David Hall 
  • Dr Amy Knighton
  • Ms Lara McDonald
  • Dr Michael Smith
  • Mr Alan Thornburrow

Items and actions


The Chair welcomed Members to Hayweight House for the thirteenth meeting of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) (the Group). 


The Chair noted that the Group has two new Members – Fiona Drouet from Emily Test and Alan Thornburrow from Business in the Community. The Group welcomed Ms Drouet to her first meeting. Unfortunately Mr Thornburrow couldn’t attend this meeting and his and other apologies were noted.

The Chair noted that Samaritans have appointed Rachel Cackett as their new Executive Director for Scotland. She has a start date in January 2020 and the Group agreed that she would be a welcome Member of the Group.

October minutes 

The Group reviewed the October minutes. An amendment was raised on point 3.1 by Ms Reid and they were otherwise agreed.  Action 13.1

Action log

Ms Fyfe presented the action log. Open and ongoing actions were discussed and updated. 

Action 4 – Bereavement support – proposal presentation

Ms Cameron and Ms Solomon from the Mental Health Foundation presented the findings and recommendations from their research into support services for those bereaved by suicide. The Group welcomed the findings of Ms Cameron and Ms Solomon and agreed that the presentation would be uploaded to the Knowledge Hub for reference.

Ms Moss presented her work on a proposal to develop a model of care in Scotland for those bereaved by suicide. As sponsor for action 4, Mr Giugliano commended both the research and the development work to the Group. 

The proposal received a very positive response with Ms Cameron, Ms Solomon and Ms Moss thanked for their work in bringing the proposal, supported by the findings of the research. The Group was keen that if early indications are that the model is successful, that a business case for roll out across Scotland is expedited without delay. Ms Drouet highlighted the importance of supporting families when breaking news of losing a loved one to suicide and getting guidance on how to, as safely as possible, communicate loss to brothers/sisters etc. The Group agreed that support for those affected by suicide as described by action 4 is broader than the work set out in the proposal, but that it was appropriate to start with those in closest relationship to the person whose life has been lost to suicide. 

The Group recommended that the Scottish Government fund the model of care for those bereaved by suicide described in the proposal. The Group requested a report at six months and at 12 months of the initial design and delivery phase in the two identified geographical areas, to allow early sharing of learning and practice. The Group expected to make further recommendations on support for those bereaved by suicide to the Scottish Government and COSLA as the work progressed. Action 13.2

Action 3 – Public awareness Choose Life rebrand 

The Union, the creative agency contracted to lead work around the Suicide Prevention Action Plan public awareness branding was welcomed to the meeting by the Chair. They then facilitated a session where the Group discussed the important messages and tone to be conveyed by a refreshed  brand for suicide prevention in Scotland. The Union would use the product of the session along with planned  engagement work with people with lived experience and other stakeholders to consider and then recommend refreshed designs and approaches to the Group.

Policy discussion

Ms Fyfe reminded the group that they had discussed a desire to explore policy areas beyond those explicit in the current three year Scottish Government Suicide Prevention Action Plan (the Plan). The Group had also agreed to produce a ‘mid-term’ report in Spring 2020. This would present to Scottish Government and to COSLA the Group’s recommendations for action in the remaining 18 months of the Plan and beyond. Ms Fyfe suggested that this consideration could be framed in terms of the National Performance Framework and how it connected with the Plan. Some members felt that suicide prevention should be considered in the context of each part of the National Performance Framework it was pointed out that many other groups are already doing this kind of mapping process.  

The Group noted that the action plan did not explicitly reference all of the policy areas that the Group considered as having a contribution to make to suicide prevention. The Group agreed that it would be appropriate to recommend further evidence-based action beyond the ten actions in the plan, across broader policy areas and in the context of a longer-term suicide prevention strategy. It was suggested that the Group break into groups at a future meeting to discuss broader areas that could be recommended in the interim report. It was agreed that the Group would use the Integrated Motivational-Volitional (IMV) Model and National Performance Framework to frame discussion and identify proposals. Action 13.3

The Group discussed the contribution that the Delivery Leads Group could make to their consideration of the landscape of suicide prevention work. The Group agreed that the delivery leads be asked to undertake an exercise on policy and lever mapping, in advance of NSPLG engagement with Scottish Government Deputy Directors on the contribution of their specific policy areas to suicide prevention. Action 13.4


Ms Fyfe presented a breakdown of funding for financial years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. This highlighted money spent and committed by the Scottish Government this financial year in support of suicide prevention. It also included a forecast for 2020-2021 based upon early information about recommendations from the Group and expected requirements to support the work of the Group. The Group welcomed the information and agreed that it was important to see the relationship between recommendations made by the Group and funding for suicide prevention from the Scottish Government. The Group discussed the need to keep under review the financial processes which maintained the independence of the Group from Government and to ensure that these best facilitate efficient delivery of the Suicide Prevention Action Plan. Action 13.5

Mr Dodds raised the further funding of Action 3 – Public Awareness. Mr Dodds and Mr Watson had proposed at the July meeting of the Group that public awareness work should be taken forward by Health Scotland and SAMH as sponsors. The Group had agreed to recommend funding of initial development only and Mr Henderson proposed that the Group recommend to Scottish Government that funding should now be made available to take forward the next phases of action 3. The Group recommended the public awareness work proposed for the remainder of 2019-2020 and 20202021 should be funded. Action 13.6

Chief Superintendent Duncan gave an update on Action 6 – Digital, noting that he intended to explore the landscape on digital and proposed that a dedicated delivery lead was needed to take this forward.  He remarked that he was aware that SAMH was hosting a joint delivery lead for action 6 and 7 – At Risk Groups. Mr Watson confirmed that he was content to revisit that arrangement, if necessary returning some of the funding, so that a separate action 6 delivery lead could be put in place.

Future meetings

Mr Grierson presented a proposal for rescheduling NSPLG meetings from every six weeks to quarterly meetings with two additional engagement events during 2020. These less frequent NSPLG meetings would be supported by monthly Delivery Lead Group meetings and quarterly Academic Advisory Group meetings. The Group agreed the proposal in principle but felt that in order to maintain current momentum, NSPLG meetings should continue in the current frequency until the Delivery Leads Group was well established. The Group agreed to meet in February, April and May/June 2020 and then to move to the proposed schedule for the remainder of 2020. Action 13.7 

The Group discussed the benefits to be gained from close links with the delivery leads and interacting with them as a group as well as bilaterally as sponsors of individual actions. The Delivery Lead Group would be invited to participate in a session of the first NSPLG meeting for 2020. Action 13.8


Ms Drouet shared guidance from England on confidentiality and the sharing of personal data of university students at risk of suicide. Ms Drouet proposed exploring the possibility of developing similar guidance for Scotland and members of the Group offered to progress this with her. The guidance for England would be uploaded to the Knowledge Hub for reference.

Dr Mitchell announced that this would be his last meeting as he would be retiring in February. The Chair thanked Dr Mitchell for his work as a sponsor for action 8 and his insightful contributions and commitment to the work of the Group. Members echoed these sentiments and wished Dr Mitchell well in his retirement.

Prof O’Connor confirmed that members of the evaluability assessment sub-group would be in touch in early 2020 with members of the NSPLG and the Delivery Leads Group to get their input on the outcomes relevant to the evaluability assessment.


The Chair thanked members for their attendance and valuable contributions throughout 2019 and wished everyone a peaceful Christmas and healthy and happy New Year.

Summary of actions from the NSPLG Meeting held on 4 December 2019:

  • Mr Wilson to amend and publish the October minutes
  • Scottish Government policy colleagues to take forward the process to take forward Action 4 work
  • Ms Fyfe to work with Prof.  O’Connor to design a workshop for the Group to identify and describe recommendations to be included in the proposed mid-term report
  • Mr Grierson to arrange an exercise on lever mapping with the Delivery Leads and present a report to the Group
  • the funding discussion at the February meeting will include consideration of the finance paper agreed in December 2018
  • Scottish Government policy colleagues to take forward the process for funds to take forward Action 3 work
  • Mr Wilson to send dates to the Group for meetings in 2020
  • Mr Grierson to invite the Delivery Lead Group to the February meeting

Future NSPLG meeting dates:

  • 26 February 2020
  • 1 April 2020 
  • 24 June 2020 
  • 2 September 2020
  • 14 October 2020
  • 2 December 2020
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