National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group minutes: July 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 20 July 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Ms Rose Fitzpatrick (Chair)
  • Dr Carol Buchanan
  • Mr Mike Burns
  • Ms Julie Cameron
  • Ms Nicola Dickie
  • Mr George Dodds
  • Ms Fiona Drouet
  • Dr David Hall
  • Dr Amy Knighton
  • Ms Nicky Reid
  • Ms Angela Scott

In attendance

  • Ms Danielle Rowley, Samaritans Scotland
  • Professor Steve Platt, Academic Advisory Group
  • Ms Claire MacBride-Stewart, Programme Manager

Scottish Government

  • Mr Dan Curran
  • Mr Craig Wilson
  • Ms Fiona Wilson

Guest speakers

Agenda item 3

  • Ms Jo Anderson, SAMH


  • Dr Alastair Cook
  • Professor Rory O’Connor
  • Ms Claire Sweeney
  • Mr Billy Watson
  • Ms Morag Williamson

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed members to the twenty ninth meeting of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) (“the group”).

The Chair welcomed Ms Rowley to her first meeting as the interim representative from Samaritans, and welcomed former member Mr Dodds back to represent Public Health Scotland in Ms Sweeney’s absence.


Apologies were noted.

May 2022 minutes

The Chair noted that the minutes from the group’s meeting in May had been circulated for comment and requested that any further comments be collated by the Secretariat and sent to her to sign off. Action 29.1

Suicide Prevention Action Plan (SPAP) – programme management update

A programme update and milestone map was shared with the group prior to the meeting. The following key updates were noted.

The new public awareness campaign aimed at children and young people, Better Tomorrow, had gone live on 1 July – an update was to be given on this later in the meeting. The digital campaign, Surviving Suicidal Thoughts, had gone live on 9 June. It was noted that the Academic Advisory Group would support the evaluation of the digital campaign and any queries should be sent to Ms Heather McClelland. The recruitment of the Youth Advisory Group (YAG) was ongoing, and the first meeting would take place in August 2022. It was noted that the YAG’s coordinator from Children In Scotland had provided an update to the group’s delivery leads at a recent meeting. It was noted that the 2021 suicide statistics would be published by National Records of Scotland (NRS) on 2 August 2022 and the group’s fourth and final annual report on the progress of the SPAP would be published in September.

Suicide prevention strategy – update

Mr Curran reported that the consultation for the new suicide prevention strategy and action plan had gone live on 13 July and would be open for six weeks until 23 August. It was noted that the new suicide prevention strategy included reference to a wide range of issues and policy areas including the impact of chronic pain on mental health, release from custody, gambling, and the impact of childhood bereavement. It was reported that an engagement session would be arranged to reach people who could not access the consultation online, and details would be sent to members when available. Action 29.2 The Chair thanked the policy team and everyone involved in getting the new strategy to this stage.

2022 priorities – updates and questions

Action 7 – at risk groups

Prof Platt presented the findings of a review that had been undertaken by the Academic Advisory Group of research literature on risk and protective factors for self-injurious or suicidal behaviour in Scotland. The presentation would be shared with the group after the meeting. Mr Curran then gave a summary of the key elements and approaches relating to risk factors from the new suicide prevention strategy and action plan. He talked about the draft strategy’s approach to groups at heightened risk of suicide and how the IMV model would be central to guiding the actions and building approaches that will work, complemented by the review work described by Prof Platt. He described the work outlined in the action plan to make sure the strategy’s learning approach would be fit for purpose and would allow the work to target sectors and parts of the workforce where it could have most impact. The action plan also recognised the need to improve data recording and reporting on suicide deaths and attempts, and bring that together with wider, relevant data to improve the understanding of suicide risks and trends.  Ms Cameron stressed the need for better understanding of and focus on protective factors.

Children and young people/UTPS Better Tomorrow campaign

Ms Drouet reported that work was ongoing to recruit more members to the Youth Advisory Group. Ms Reid offered to connect Ms Drouet with the SPFL Trust network of young people to help promote the recruitment. Action 29.3

Ms Anderson reported that the new awareness campaign to target young people, Better Tomorrow, had gone live on 1 July and would run until the end of August. It was noted that the primary audience were young people aged 16-19 and the secondary audience would be 20-24 year olds. It was reported that there had been a high level of stakeholder engagement to bridge lived experience and professional expertise, and extensive engagement had taken place with groups of young people through various networks including local authorities, colleges and football clubs. It was reported that the methods of engagement included workshops, focus groups and surveys. It was highlighted that content had been produced and shared via social media which, to date, had attracted over 12,000 views and a live chat would take place on the Discord platform in August. It was noted that two reports had been produced to help inform the campaign and Ms Anderson undertook to connect Ms Drouet with the researchers as well as share links to the social media content. Action 29.4 It was highlighted that this work was breaking new ground with an audience that had previously been difficult to reach, and lots of fresh data would be gathered to inform learning.

The Chair thanked Ms Anderson for her presentation and asked that this work be connected with the ongoing work around the Youth Advisory Group, and that priority continue to be given to the safeguarding of everyone involved. The Chair also undertook to share feedback with Ms Anderson that she had received from a head teacher regarding peer networks and access to the materials through school counsellors and guidance staff. Action 29.5

Action 10 – suicide reviews

Under action 10 of the Suicide Prevention Action Plan, pilot work had been ongoing to establish multi-agency suicide reviews. A report had been circulated to the group prior to the meeting containing an overview of the work and recommendations based on learning from the three test areas (Grampian, Scottish Borders, and Dumfries and Galloway) to support national roll-out.

Ms Scott and Dr Hall reported that the report highlighted what needed to be in place to undertake suicide reviews, but that decisions on how to proceed now needed to be made by policy-makers, budget holders and service providers beyond the group. It was highlighted that a considerable amount of resource would be required to support local areas to undertake reviews of all deaths by suicide, and consideration would need to be given to putting sustainable, clearly owned systems in place. It was suggested that a compromise could be made by considering an approach that delivered reviews in a restricted way, such as a smaller sample of reviews. It was noted that the Academic Advisory Group would be happy to get involved in exploring this.

The group welcomed the recommendations from the report and Ms Scott and Dr Hall undertook to bring a proposal to the group’s next meeting which would set out the next steps for an alternative approach to support rolling out the work nationally in alignment with the new suicide prevention strategy. Action 29.6 The Chair agreed to discuss this further with Ms Scott. Action 29.7

North East Suicide Prevention Partnership

Ms Scott reported that the collaboration with SAMH was going well and that steering and oversight groups had been set up. It was noted that this work should be aligned with the new suicide prevention strategy and action plan, and could be linked to drug death reviews. Ms Scott undertook to share the action 10 report with pathfinders.

Suicide bereavement pilot – update

Ms Cameron gave an update on the Action 4 suicide bereavement pilots in NHS Highland and NHS Ayrshire and Arran. It was noted that, since the launch of the pilots in 2021, 99 referrals had been received and 81 individuals were actively being supported through in-person, video and telephone support sessions. It was reported that an interim evaluation report to end of March 2022 highlighted the important and positive impact the service had already made. Positive feedback from service users noted compassionate delivery, consistent delivery staff, person/family centred approach, and being able to speak one to one with someone who isn't a friend or family member. Ms Cameron noted that a proposal would be submitted to the group regarding the future of the bereavement service and that the steering group would be providing specific input to the development of the new suicide prevention strategy. Action 29.8 The Chair thanked Ms Cameron for her presentation, noting that the service had made a difference to many people and families in the pilot areas.

Any other business

The Chair reported that two events would take place to mark the conclusion of the current Suicide Prevention Action Plan in late August/early September. One, for the broad NSPLG network of the group itself, the LEP, AAG, delivery leads, local suicide prevention leads, Scottish Government and COSLA colleagues, would reflect on four years’ support for the action plan and look forward to the next stage of work; and the other would recognise, celebrate and share the learning from the Lived Experience Panel with a range of other organisations. Further information would be issued in due course.


The Chair closed the meeting and thanked the group for their contributions. The next meeting of the group would take place on 14 September 2022.

Summary of actions from the NSPLG meeting held on 20 July 2022

  • members to send any amendments to the March minutes to the secretariat
  • policy team to circulate details of engagement event for consultation of new suicide prevention strategy
  • Ms Reid to connect Ms Drouet with her network of young people to help promote recruitment of members to the Youth Advisory Group
  • Ms Anderson to connect Ms Drouet with the researchers from the Better Tomorrow campaign and share links to the campaign’s social media content
  • Chair to share feedback with Ms Anderson from a head teacher regarding peer networks
  • Ms Scott and Dr Hall to bring a proposal regarding the next steps for action 10 to the group’s next meeting
  • Chair to discuss next steps for action 10 with Ms Scott
  • Ms Cameron to submit a proposal regarding the future of the bereavement support service
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