National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group minutes: July 2019

Minutes of the meeting of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group, held on 31 July 2019.

Attendees and apologies


  • Ms Rose Fitzpatrick (Chair)
  • Dr David Hall
  • Mr George Dodds
  • Mr Toni Giugliano
  • Mr Nigel Henderson
  • Mr James Jopling
  • Ms Lara McDonald
  • Dr John Mitchell
  • Ms Ruth Moss
  • Ms Jane O’Donnell
  • Mr Billy Watson


  • Dr Amy Knighton
  • Chief Superintendent John McKenzie
  • Ms Nicky Reid
  • Ms Angela Scott
  • Dr Michael Smith
  • Professor Rory O’Connor (Academic Advisory Group)

In attendance:

  • Ms Innes Fyfe (Scottish Government)
  • Ms Siobhan Mackay (Scottish Government)
  • Professor Steve Platt (Academic Advisory Group)
  • Mr Allan Steele (Scottish Government)

Items and actions

1. Welcome from the Chair


1.1. The Chair welcomed Members to the tenth meeting of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) (the Group), thanking them for their attendance. Apologies were noted.


1.2. The Group expressed their sincere condolences to the Minister for Mental Health, Ms. Clare Haughey, and her family on their bereavement.

1.3. The Group congratulated Ms. Jane O’Donnell on her appointment as co-chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Programme Board.

1.4. The Group noted that this would be the last meeting for both Ms Mackay and Mr Steele.  Ms Mackay was congratulated on her promotion within the Mental Health Directorate and Mr Steele for his new role with the Distress Intervention Group. Ms Fyfe agreed to provide an updated contact list for the Suicide Prevention policy team in Scottish Government. (Action 10.1)

June minutes  

1.5. Mr Watson asked for a change to paragraph 4.4 to clarify the commitment from the Group to the Minister for Mental Health and Councillor Currie on making specific recommendations about the Choose Life programme in the Annual Report. (Action 10.2)

Action log

1.6. Ms Mackay presented the Action log. Open and ongoing actions were discussed and updated. 

2. Suicide Prevention Action Plan progress

2.1. NSPLG Members had provided updates on progress in advance. The Group agreed the update was a useful format for identifying areas of opportunity and concern. Further updates were discussed on Actions 2,5,7,8 and 9 before a substantive discussion on Action 4 preliminary findings. The Group also discussed how interdependences and sub-actions would be represented in the highlight report and evolving delivery plan. (Action 10.3)      

Action 2: Training

2.2. The Group noted that associated costs would increase in line with the number of individuals receiving training. This would be incorporated in a fuller proposal and presented to the Group. (Action 10.4)

2.3. The Group agreed that the commitment in the Suicide Prevention Action Plan (SPAP) to ensure that by the end of academic year 2019/20 every local authority would be offered training for teachers in mental health first aid, using a ‘train the trainer’ model to enable dissemination to all schools would fall to the Action 2 Sponsors although the commitment appeared in Action 8.  The Group discussed the recent ‘Give Life a Chance’ petition as well as some of the details of implementation.  

Action 5: Crisis Support

2.4. The Group discussed Action 5 progress and agreed that the introduction of a delivery lead resource would be key. In advance of the delivery lead being in place, a range of next steps were agreed:

  • Action 1 Sponsors would share their raw survey data to provide detail and context to the survey results presented at the NSPLG May meeting (Action 10.5)
  • A workshop session would be set up to agree a working definition of ‘crisis support’, beginning with the Health Technology Assessments paper: Improving outcomes for people in mental health crisis. The workshop would also aim to describe what effective service provision would look like. This could then be tested with stakeholders. (Action 10.6)
  • Links with other Scottish Government programmes of work including the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Programme Board and Distress Intervention Group would be developed and progressed. (Action 10.7)

Action 7: At risk groups

2.5. The Group discussed the work ahead in regards to evidence gathering from both the literature reviews underway through the Academic Advisory Group (AAG) and lived experience engagement. It was noted progress is behind the Delivery Plan schedule at the moment, however that the introduction of delivery resource would allow work to catch up.

Action 9: Evidence

2.6. The Group noted the two-pronged approach to evaluating the SPAP.  The first part would look at the existing planned actions and create a logic model from the outputs achieved. The second part would describe the broad outcome goals of the SPAP, identify gaps that could lead to recommendations and sub-goals that would measure progress towards those outcomes. 

Action 4: Support for those affected by suicide

2.7. Ms Moss gave a presentation of the projected direction of travel for Action 4 and the work done to identify an effective programme of support for those bereaved by suicide.  

2.8. The Group discussed some of the characteristics of a successful programme and how it may fit into the Scottish landscape. They were very supportive of the general approach and it was agreed that a formal proposal from Action 4 would be presented at the October NSPLG meeting. (Action 10.8)

3. Action 3: Choose Life Options paper 

3.1. NSPLG Members discussed the process for developing a new Suicide Prevention brand/identity for Scotland and the steps to be taken to transition from the current Choose Life brand, building on its achievements over the years since its creation. 

3.2. The Group strongly supported this intention, agreed with the proposal in principle and agreed to recommend to Scottish Government that funding should be provided for initial development, with final approval on the funding detail to be sought from the finance sub-group. Action 10.9 Further discussion would be required before additional costs could be recommended. 

3.3. The Group discussed the vision for the work on Action 3. There was discussion on whether the work on Choose Life as a brand would represent a refresh, relaunch or transformation.  It was agreed that the aspiration for this work was much more than the sum of tangible products.  Rather, this should aim to build a campaign and social movement to transform and modernise suicide prevention in Scotland. 

4. Suicide statistics

4.1. Professor Platt presented the 2018 National Records Scotland Suicide Statistics published by Information Services Division 26 June 2019. He warned that a single year of data should not be over-interpreted: several years of data would be required in order to establish a clear trend. Nevertheless, an increase such as that seen between 2017 and 2018 was highly unusual; and a similar increase had also been observed in England and Wales.

4.2. The Group discussed the complex associations and multitude of factors that could be contributing if the 2018 data is the beginning of an upward trend (e.g. socio-economic, digital life, cultural factors). The Group observed the long term data on the cohort now in their middle years and discussed maintaining a focus on that group whilst devising strategies and mechanisms of support for younger people.  

4.3. The Group also discussed the 20% reduction target set out in the SPAP, noting technical difficulties with measuring against a 2017 baseline. More crucially, Professor Platt advised that the numerical reduction target remained highly ambitious and was unlikely to be achieved given the recent data and analysis available. The Group discussed the importance of maintaining an ambitious approach and how they could respond positively: focussing on the vision of the SPAP; evaluating the efficacy of the SPAP 10 actions; proposing additional actions as appropriate; and redoubling efforts. They agreed that this would be reflected in the September Annual Report. (Action 10.10) 

5. Programme update

5.1. In the absence of the Programme Manager, Ms Mackay gave an update on the development of the Lived Experience panel to be in place by the end of September.  The expenditure tracker and the timeline for the Annual Report were noted.  The Group also noted that the Action 1 Sponsors would bring a revised phase two proposal to the September meeting.  (Action 10.11) 

5.2. The Group noted the plans for the Delivery Leads to be drawn from member organisations to join the secretariat for the Group and deliver the operational aspects of the SPAP.  The Group agreed that delivery leads for Actions 2 and 3 would be split with Health Scotland providing the lead for Action 2 without additional funding.  SAMH is able to propose a lead for Action 3, and would require funding.

5.3. The Group noted that the Delivery Plan was now updated and published and that the Secretariat would bring a summary of the projected delivery of funding recommendations to the September meeting. (Action 10.12)

6. Meeting close

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

Summary of Actions from the NSPLG Meeting held on 19 June 2019:

  • 10.1: Ms Fyfe to provide an updated contact list for the Suicide Prevention policy team in Scottish Government
  • 10.2: Secretariat to amend June NSPLG minutes and publish
  • 10.3: Programme Manager to ensure interdependences and sub-actions are represented in the highlight report and evolving delivery plan 
  • 10.4: Action 2 Sponsors to provide a proposal on associated costs in line with the number of individuals receiving training
  • 10.5: Action 1 Sponsors to share survey data with the rest of the Group
  • 10.6: Programme Manager to set up a workshop session for action 5 to include the chair of the Distress Intervention Group, Action 5 Sponsors, Dr Mitchell, Ms McDonald and Ms Moss
  • 10.7: Ms Fitzpatrick to write to the co-chairs of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Implementation Group and Distress Intervention Group, inviting close working on matters of shared interest
  • 10.8: Action 4 Sponsors to bring a formal proposal to the October meeting of the NSPLG
  • 10.9: Action 3 Sponsors to provide a proposal to the finance subgroup for approval of the detail for initial development funding
  • 10.10: The Group’s response to the ambitious target from the SPAP and the NRS suicide statistics to be included in the Annual Report
  • 10.11: Action 1 Sponsors to bring a revised phase two proposal to the September meeting
  • 10.12: Secretariat to bring a summary of projected delivery funding recommendations to the September meeting

Future NSPLG meeting dates:

  • 11 September 2019: Stafford Centre, Broughton Street, Edinburgh EH1 3RZ
  • 23 October 2019: Hampden Park, Glasgow, G42 9BA
  • 4 December 2019: Venue TBC
  • 15 January 2020: Venue TBC
Back to top