National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group minutes: February 2020

Minutes of the meeting of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group, held on 26 February.

Attendees and apologies


  • Ms Rose Fitzpatrick (Chair)
  • Ms Rachel Cackett
  • Mr George Dodds
  • Ms Fiona Drouet
  • Mr Toni Giugliano
  • Dr David Hall
  • Dr Amy Knighton
  • Ms Jane O’Donnell
  • Ms Nicky Reid
  • Ms Angela Scott (dial in)
  • Dr Michael Smith
  • Mr Alan Thornburrow

In Attendance

  • Mr Dan Curran (Scottish Government)
  • Ms Innes Fyfe (Scottish Government)
  • Mr Andy Grierson (Programme Manager)
  • Professor Rory O’Connor (Academic Advisory Group)
  • Ms Della Robb (Scottish Government)
  • Mr Craig Wilson (Scottish Government)


  • Chief Superintendent Davie Duncan
  • Mr Nigel Henderson
  • Ms Lara McDonald
  • Mr Billy Watson
  • Professor Steve Platt (Academic Advisory Group)

Guest Speakers

Delivery Leads

  • Ms Haylis Smith, Actions 1&10
  • Ms Susan Monks, Action 2
  • Ms Jo Anderson, Action 3
  • Ms Shirley Windsor, Action 3
  • Ms Ruth Moss, Actions 4&5
  • Ms Carolyn Lochhead, Action 7
  • Mr Keir McKechnie, Lived Experience Panel Co-ordinator

Academic Advisory Group Researchers

  • Ms Hannah McClelland
  • Mr Tiago Zortea

Items and actions

1. Welcome

1.1 The Chair welcomed Members to Atlantic Quay for the fourteenth meeting of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) (the Group).


1.2 Apologies were noted.


1.3 The Chair welcomed new Members Ms Cackett and Mr Thornburrow to their first meeting and introduced Mr Curran as the new Team Leader in the Scottish Government Policy Team. The Chair welcomed the NSPLG Delivery Leads to the meeting.

2. Delivery Leads

2.1 The Delivery Leads were invited to meet the Group and give an overview of what is important to them as well as a brief comment on the progress of their work stream.  It was highlighted by one of the leads that everyone has a role to play and it’s important to develop a social movement that has a consistent thread from the NSPLG through to front line services. The Group welcomed their addition to the Scottish Suicide Prevention Action Plan delivery programme, bringing their skills, knowledge and passion to delivering on our commitment to make suicide prevention everyone’s business.  The Chair advised that, following consultation with the co-sponsors for Action 8, a Delivery Lead would now be recruited.

2.2 Mr McKechnie confirmed that the Lived Experience Panel members have been recruited and noted achievements in recruiting a diverse group in terms of geography, gender and age. He noted that, due to the response when creating the Lived Experience Panel, a broader network has been established out with the Panel and highlighted the need to connect with other existing networks.  He noted that several Lived Experience Panel events have already taken place and further regional events are planned. He highlighted the need to manage the Lived Experience Panel’s expectations, and the importance of having effective feedback loops between the Group and the Panel.

2.3 The Chair thanked all the Delivery Leads and Researchers for the value they were already adding to realising the aims of the Suicide Prevention Action Plan.

3. Evaluability Assessment Proposal

3.1  Ms Windsor reported that a workshop took place on 20 February with the Delivery Leads and Sponsors to review the strategic outcomes framework, map out alignment between the short term outcomes of the individual actions and the strategic outcomes framework and identify potential data sources to demonstrate how the short term and intermediate outcomes are being realised.  She noted that the next steps for the Evaluability Assessment included revising the strategic outcomes framework and having a follow up workshop to review progress toward short term outcomes across the Actions, and consider potential data sources by the end of April.

3.2 It was noted that due to the disparity on progress between different actions the Group would need to consider how to approach the evaluation – either evaluating the action plan as a whole or in parts – and would need to be realistic of what can be measured, as well as presented in a readily-understandable and accessible format.  It was agreed that Delivery Leads should prioritise providing evaluation information necessary for developing the framework.  It was also agreed that in order not to hinder evaluation of work already underway, a pragmatic approach should be adopted and the framework populated as far as currently possible should be brought to the June meeting for agreement.

3.3 There was a discussion around the Action Plan and whether to evaluate just the ten actions or also look at wider issues such as welfare and unemployment, focussing on vulnerable situations not only vulnerable people.

3.4 Ms Windsor will write to Members seeking views on the evaluation framework extent, content and presentation and bring the proposed evaluation framework to the June meeting for agreement. Action 14.1 and 14.2

4. Midpoint Report

4.1 Mr Curran and Ms Robb facilitated a workshop where the Members discussed the Group’s midpoint report which it is intended to submit in April. This report is separate to the Group’s Annual Report which will be published in September 2020.

4.2 The session aimed to capture the Members’ views on longer term strategic outcomes for suicide prevention policy in Scotland and to record any additional actions that should be taken to achieve these outcomes, including activities out with the ten actions and those that extend beyond the 3 year term of the Suicide Prevention Action Plan.

4.3 The Chair highlighted that she and Mr Dodds had recently met with Ms Angela Leitch, the Chief Executive of the new body Public Health Scotland and opened a useful discussion on the role of Public Health Scotland in enabling effective suicide prevention leadership and activity across all sectors and localities.

4.4 Mr Curran and Ms Robb will use the views and ideas shared at this session to help shape the midpoint report, and seek examples of wider preventative/non-health policies such as fair work and trauma-informed practice for all members, enabling those not present at the meeting to contribute.  Action 14.3

4.5 A draft report would be circulated to members for comment and views taken electronically over the next weeks, to enable a final draft to be signed off at the next meeting of the Group on 1 April.

5. Business and Programme Updates

December Minutes

5.1 The Group reviewed the December minutes. An amendment was raised on point 3.1 by Ms Reid and they were otherwise agreed. Action 14.4

SPAP Delivery Programme Dashboard Overview

5.2 Mr Grierson confirmed that the Delivery Lead Group now meet monthly and have done since November 2019.

5,3 Approval of secondment of a Delivery Lead for Action 6: Digital has been granted by Police Scotland Chief Board.  The role will be internally advertised.

5.4 Mr Grierson noted that as the Group will be meeting less frequently any proposals/requests for the attention of the Group Action sponsors will be logged and approvals will be sought electronically where applicable. The Group agreed to this approach.

5.5 It was noted that work to develop a new identity for suicide prevention in Scotland under Action 3 was progressing well and it was intended to provide the Minister and COSLA Lead with an informal opportunity to see the product as soon as this was ready, potentially in early April. 

5.6 Mr Grierson presented an update on the delivery plan and agreed to produce a 12 month view of this. Action 14.5

Policy and Finance Report

5.7 Mr Curran presented the funding update. It was agreed that the update should in future show all spend to date, including previous year(s) and that Members and Delivery Leads will provide spending estimates (however imprecise) to the policy team as soon as possible.

5.8 Mr Curran highlighted that the Suicide Prevention and Self-Harm policy team are working with the Young People team in developing self-harm policy. The Minister For Mental Health has been engaged and is supportive. The lack of data and research on self-harm is a key challenge and there would be work to improve this.

5.9 Mr Curran noted that the latest ScotSID report was published on 18 February.  The report notes that nearly one in two people (44.2%) who died by suicide were in contact with at least one unscheduled care service in the 12 months before death.

5.10 On 3 February, the Independent Scottish Mental Health Law Review launched a consultation seeking people’s views and experiences of current mental health laws in Scotland. The consultation is the first step in gathering as broad a range of views and experiences as possible so that the review can fully capture how people feel they have been treated and help develop recommendations for change.

5.11 The Group heard about the latest developments in the Scottish Government’s work on child deaths reviews. Three areas in Scotland are currently piloting child death reviews and these pilots would contribute to developing a national approach.

5.12 The next policy update will include information on assisted deaths. Action 14.6

5.13 Dr Smith asked if the forward look and policy updates could be published on the SG website. The policy team will explore options for disseminating this information.  Action 14.7

5.14The Chair will make a formal request to Scottish Government and COSLA in early summer to update the Group on the progress of recommendations made in the 2019 Annual Report, so that this progress could in turn be reported in the 2020 Annual Report. Action 14.8

6. Camerados

6.1 The Group watched the film “Camerados in 4 minutes”, after which Dr Smith gave an overview of the Camerados initiative.

6.2 The Group heard that the Camerados initiative provides a resource for people who are experiencing “tough times” but aren’t feeling suicidal. The initiative provides informal spaces where users are encouraged to connect with and support each other without clinical intervention. This involves the use of unusual spaces such as tents with access to sofas, tea/coffee. The spaces attract large numbers of diverse users, with a space at Bristol University attracting up to 700 students per day. There are such spaces in five hospitals in England and it has been noted that hospital staff, carers and visitors use them as much as patients. It has been noted however, that this doesn’t work well in a formal setting with the presence of staff/uniforms or in the context of a mental health campaign.

6.3 The presentation was well received by the Group and prompted a discussion around how this can help destigmatise mental health issues by using a similar initiative in diverse settings such as hospitals, universities/colleges and football clubs.

6.4 Dr Smith proposed testing something similar for Action 7 (At Risk) and offered to invite the founder of Camerados to an NSPLG meeting to explore further.

7. Close

7.1 The Chair thanked Members for their attendance and valuable contributions.

Summary of Actions from the NSPLG Meeting held on 26 February 2020

14.1 Ms Windsor to write to Members seeking views on the evaluation with a view to having a proposal ready by June.

14.2 Ms Windsor to bring the proposed evaluation framework to the June meeting for agreement.

14.3 Mr Curran to seek examples of wider preventative/non-health policies from Members to include in the mid-point report.

14.4  Mr Wilson to update and publish the December minutes.

14.5  Mr Grierson to produce a 12 month view of the delivery plan.

14.6 The policy team to include information on assisted deaths at the next meeting.

14.7 The policy team to explore options for sharing key policy updates and the forward look.

14.8 The Chair to make a formal request to Scottish Government to update the Group on the progress of recommendations made in the 2019 Annual Report.

Future NSPLG meeting dates:

1 April 2020

24 June 2020

2 September 2020

14 October 2020

2 December 2020

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