National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group minutes: March 2019

Minutes of the meeting of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group, held on 20 March 2019.

1. Welcome from the Chair 


1.1. The Chair noted that due to train disruption coming from Edinburgh, the meeting start time was delayed by half an hour to 12.30pm.

1.2.  The Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) (the Group) welcomed Members to their seventh meeting and thanked them for battling against the transport problems.

1.3.  Apologies had been received from Dr John Mitchell and Ms Angela Scott.

1.4.  Ms Mairi Gordon attended for agenda item 5.


1.5. The Group approved the minutes from the February meeting for publication with no amendments. Action 7:1

Action Log 

1.6. Ms Mackay gave a brief update on actions of previous meetings. These were all either complete or on track.

1.7. Mr Jopling requested that Action 3.12, regarding formalised engagement with people with lived experience, be left at amber at this stage. Although work had progressed towards this it had not been completed as yet.  At the February meeting of the Group, Members had agreed it was important to take the time to get this work right, though it should remain a priority as it was relevant across all the work of the Group.   Action 7.2

1.8.  It was noted that the Youth Commission meeting cited in action 6.4 (from the February meeting) was still to take place. Members were therefore reminded to contact Ms McDonald if they felt any specific issues should be raised with the Commission. Ms McDonald to respond to Secretariat on the date options that had been circulated for this meeting.

1.9.  Following action 6.8 of the February meeting, the updated research recommendation on Action 4 was received by Scottish Government  (SG) via the Chair. The recommendation had since been considered and a grant had been offered to the Mental Health Foundation on match-funding basis.

1.10. As per action 6.11, the Secretariat had created a list of NSPLG sub-groups which had been uploaded to the NSPLG Knowledge Hub. 

1.11. As per action 6.12, the Secretariat had circulated dates for NSPLG meetings through to January 2020 on a 6 weekly basis. Unless otherwise agreed by the Group, these meetings would run from 10.30 to 15.30. The morning session would be reserved for updating the group against the Delivery Plan actions, and the afternoon session for themed discussion. Members were asked to nominate venues for future meetings and to also make suggestions for themed discussions. Action 7.3

1.12. The Secretariat confirmed completed actions would be archived and a master copy stored would be made available on Knowledge Hub. Papers for future meetings would only cite actions which are still open.

Forward Look 

1.13. As with the January meeting, the Forward Look document was circulated to Members prior to the meeting. The Group were again encouraged to update the Secretariat with any other important dates. As with the Action Log, a master copy would be made available on Knowledge Hub. For future meeting papers, dates that have passed would be left off. 

1.14.The Secretariat also announced that SG had just published an advert for a Programme Manager for this work. This would be on a secondment basis. 

2. Delivery Plan Progress

Draft Action Reporting Template

2.1.  To enable Group Members to report to each other and maintain an audit of progress against the Delivery Plan, the Secretariat had circulated a draft reporting template for Members to complete and return ahead of future meetings. This would inform the development of a Highlight report for each meeting. Members discussed this approach and while some felt it would be helpful, others considered that it would take an undue amount of time. 

2.2. Instead, the Group agreed that the Secretariat should complete a Highlight report based on verbal updates from Members. In due course, the Programme Manager would take on this role. The Secretariat emphasised, and the Group acknowledged the importance of Members being available to provide updates ahead of each meeting to allow the Highlight Report to be completed. Action 7.4


2.3.  Following on from this, a broader point was also raised by the Members regarding resources. This included resources associated with supporting the NSPLG and with the delivery mechanisms for any NSPLG recommendations. Members noted that while the NSPLG was a Leadership Group, it wasn’t an implementation group.

2.4.  Members recognised that many of the organisations represented on the Group were highlighted within the Delivery Plan as key delivery partners. As such, Members challenged each other to consider what resource might be available within their own organisations. It was also noted that, where necessary, the NSPLG’s Suicide Prevention Funding Paper set out how recommendations could be made to source funding from the £3 million investment in suicide prevention to commission activity. Mr Watson proposed and it was agreed that the Group should develop a Resource Plan ahead of the May meeting.  The Secretariat would co-ordinate that activity with input from Members. Action 7.5

Update of National Suicide Prevention Action Plan Actions

Action 1 (Local Planning)

2.5. The February update from the sponsors of Action 1 identified that that they were in the process of mapping existing local planning. A questionnaire was developed and circulated to a range of regional stakeholders to inform this. Two thirds of these had been returned and NHS Health Scotland had begun analysis to pull out trends. The remaining questionnaires have been given a short extension and are expected in the coming weeks. The analysis work is due to be completed for the May NSPLG meeting, and will help provide a basis for the development of local planning guidance. 

2.6. The sponsors confirmed that an Action sub-group of the sponsors, NHS Health Scotland, Choose Life Co-ordinators, and the Secretariat had been created to take the work forward.

2.7.  It was noted that the sponsors of Action 1 and 3 would be meeting with the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives Scotland (SOLACE) to discuss their approaches to avoid duplication. Ms O’Donnell also updated the Group that the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) were going to facilitate meetings between the Chair and SOLACE and Integrated Joint Board (IJB) Chief Officers. Action 7.6

Action 2 (Suicide Prevention Training Update)

2.8. Action 2 was updated upon later in the meeting. This can be found in section 3 of the minutes.

Action 3 (Public Awareness)

2.9.  The sponsors had made progress towards setting up a reference group for their action and agreed their principles for collaboration as per the Delivery Plan.  

2.10. Meetings with relevant stakeholders to identify information and awareness needs had also been initiated. This included industry bodies and thinking had very much been based around reaching the most vulnerable. As discussed in the last meeting, this would be a targeted approach and therefore need to work very closely with the other Actions for consistency. It was also noted that there is a tentative slot for suicide prevention and the work of NSPLG at the Scottish Leaders Forum in November.

Action 4 (Support for those affected by suicide)

2.11.  As noted in the action log update, a grant to the Mental Health Foundation had now been made and research had begun. The outcome of this research would provide the basis for subsequent evidence building and work (potentially pilot programmes) in this Action.

2.12. In addition to the above the sponsors had been meeting with relevant stakeholders including NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, specifically in regards to trauma and distress response

Action 5 (Crisis Support)

2.13. The sponsors reported that they would be drawing on the responses and analysis from the questionnaire which had been circulated for Action 1 to continue their mapping and scoping exercise of existing services and support. Further work to link with the Mental Health Strategy, NHS 24, Children and Young People Mental Health Taskforce (CYPMH Taskforce), and Distress Brief Interventions would also fill this picture out further.

2.14. On a more general point the Group noted that individual Members were in many cases meeting separately with the same individuals and organisations and that it would be sensible to communicate more closely to improve stakeholder management and avoid double handling.  In the absence of a workable diary solution it was agreed that the NSPLG group email address would be used by Members to keep each other up to date with stakeholder engagement and any opportunities this might bring. Action 7.7

Action 6 (Digital)

2.15. With regard to online resources, the sponsors had engaged Professor Steve Platt, co-Chair of the NSPLG Academic Advisory Group (AAG) to carry out a literature review on where online applications have made impact in relation to the different stages of the Suicide Integrated Motivational-Volitional (IMV) Model. An initial round table discussion would be convened, however as thinking has progressed since December 2018 it was noted that the first two stages of Action 6 of the Delivery Plan may need to be switched around.

2.16. It was recognised by Members that there were interdependencies between Action 6 and other Actions which would influence the development of digital solutions across the board.

Action 7 (At risk groups)

2.17. Following February’s NSPLG meeting the sponsors had indicated they would come back to the Group with further thinking. The sponsors had now created a timeline for work moving forward with a scoping exercise scheduled between March and April 2019 followed by a report at the May NSPLG meeting. Tying into the previous resource discussion, the sponsors identified that they would need some support after May and would come to the Group accordingly. April to October 2019 would be focused on engagement with seldom heard groups and a critique of evidence and practice.  It was intended that during October to December an overarching framework would be developed. 

2.18. As a first step in supporting this an ad-hoc team from the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde was being created.

2.19. A note was also made regarding access to data through the Scottish Suicide Information Database (ScotSID) and what could be done to reduce barriers to cross government collaboration regarding data. It was noted that this could be raised with the new Mental Health Delivery Board as cross-cutting issue.

Action 8 (Children and Young People)

2.20. The focus of this Action underpins all the other Suicide Prevention Action Plan (SPAP) Actions.

2.21. The sponsors noted that there had been a number of meetings to promote and bring together thinking on children’s and young people's mental health across government. This had included the CYPMH Taskforce where coordinated work around support and information dissemination was discussed. 

2.22. It had also been identified that connections with digital media, self-harm and training were high priorities for the near future and the sponsors will be progressing these links.

2.23. The Group discussed the importance of these cross-government connections with the Secretariat noting that they were making links on the support side with the CYPMH Taskforce.  It was agreed that the Secretariat would undertake an exercise to map the actions of the CYPMH Taskforce against the NSPLG Delivery Plan Actions to ensure the inclusion of appropriate suicide prevention activity, and that Dame Denise Coia, Chair of the CYPMH Taskforce, would be invited to a future themed meeting of the Group. Action 7.8 and 7.9

Action 9 (Evidence)

2.24. Professor O’Connor flagged the launch of the Suicide Prevention Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) for information. 

2.25. It was noted that a website which was believed to promote harm had come to the attention of the MOOC and the course organisers had referred it to Police Scotland.  This triggered a discussion about what mechanisms were in place to respond promptly and effectively to concerns about risk in the online environment and what were the respective roles of the Scottish Government and the NSPLG.  Linked to this, there was a discussion about the recent media coverage on the MOMO challenge and what the mechanisms were/should be for fast-time advice to be issued in Scotland on online suicide prevention matters.  It was agreed that these were questions both the Scottish Government Mental Health Directorate and the NSPLG should consider.  In the first instance, the online environment might be a discussion topic for one of the NSPLG’s first themed discussions. Action 7.10 and 7.11

2.26. As discussed at the previous NSPLG meeting, online harm was a focus in the UK currently. Online content was a reserved matter, i.e. primacy rested with the Westminster Government rather than the Scottish Government, however interaction via various channels was ongoing. Ms Moss in particular had had several meetings with social media organisations and UK Members of Parliament on this point, in her personal capacity. 

2.27. It was noted that invitations to join the Academic Advisory Group had gone out. The first full-group meeting was planned for late April 2019.

2.28. Professors O’Connor and Platt had met stakeholders and were supporting NSPLG Members with relevant evidence and research across SPAP Actions. This included work on the IMV model, Action 4’s research proposal, and planned work for Action 6 outlined earlier in the meeting.  It was agreed that all requests by Members for AAG support should be submitted via the Secretariat. Action 7.12

2.29. It was also agreed that Members should be asked, in submitting their resource requirements to the Secretariat for the development of the Resource Plan, to provide an indication for the year ahead of what AAG support they anticipated needing. Action 7.13

2.30. The Chair reminded Members that the IMV model had been discussed at the last meeting as a model which could provide valuable coherence and consistency to the work of the Group and the Delivery Plan. Several Members had expressed interest to the Chair in taking this perspective further and it was agreed that a working group be put together on this. Action 7.14

Action 10 (Reviews)

2.31. A draft document on existing review activity was being created, informed by meetings with relevant stakeholders. This was due to be finalised shortly and would help develop options for local models that would lead to a pilot in due course. Mr Hall thanked the Secretariat, specifically Ms Wilson for her significant input on this.

2.32. Work regarding evaluation and oversight will also progress in parallel to this, with an understanding that any successful interventions would need to be scaleable.  A potential role for a national body to help share best practice was also under consideration.  

2.33. It was noted that Ms Scott had offered to undertake any pilots within the Aberdeen City Council area.  The Chair suggested pilots might be taken across a number of areas and noted interest expressed at the recent meeting of Choose Life co-ordinators, as well as in Ayrshire.  Ms O’Donnell offered to raise this with Ms Scott and at her forthcoming SOLACE meeting.

3. Action 2: Suicide Prevention Training Update

3.1. The sponsors of Action 2 gave an update on the first phase of the training. This included an online universal resource in the form of a three minute animation, a Knowledge and Skills Framework and a workforce development plan.  This was aimed at the NHS employed workforce in response to the Scottish Government’s commitment to mandatory training but it was recognised that there was a much broader cross-section of the public and private sector workforce for whom it was also relevant and could be used. It was noted that the animation would be publically accessible and could be used in other sectors. It was noted that this package was nearly completed with planned roll out in May 2019 on-track to be delivered. The Group was invited to view this training in early April.  The next phase of this work would include the development of more specific training resources to meet the needs of more specialist practitioners.

3.2. As Members had noted previously the link between Action 2 (Training) and Action 3 (Public Awareness) was considered to be significant. Sponsors had been meeting with industry and community bodies to develop this aspect of the training, and proposed that an approach of encouragement rather compulsion be taken towards this.  Public awareness of this training would be an important signifier to back up the messaging of the training itself. 

3.3. Additionally, the ties to Action 7 (At Risk Groups) with regard to targeting  training would be important. An example was given of the opportunity to build on mental health support and reach men aged between 35 and 55 by training/working with barbers.

3.4. In relation to Action 8 (Children and Young People), the Group noted that any training packages would also need to take account of their specific needs in terms of both content and delivery.

3.5. The sponsors were meeting regularly with wider stakeholders to encourage them to take this training on. In particular Ms O’Donnell and Mr Dodds indicated that they would be discussing opportunities for training with Local Authorities. Action 7.15

4. Communications and Engagement

4.1. Following on from the February discussion on the Group’s draft Communications and Engagement plan, Ms Gordon had circulated questions in advance of the March meeting to inform a discussion about wider suicide prevention communication activity. Ms Gordon introduced this session with a presentation on various considerations for both the Group’s Communications and Engagment Plan and also broader suicide prevention communications.  The key questions were:

  • Does the NSPLG require a public profile and what form should this take?
  • Should we develop a unifying brand for suicide prevention work related to the National Action Plan?
  • What should the role and remit of the NSPLG’s communication and engagement strategy be?
  • What should the relationship be between this communication and engagement strategy and Action 3?  

4.2.  There was a broad discussion about this. The Group agreed that the NSPLG required a profile in order to establish who it was and to communicate with others but that it should not develop a brand around itself. The Secretariat and Ms Gordon would finalise the Communication and Engagement plan on that basis, and resource accordingly. Action 7.16

4.3. The Group agreed to support the development of a refreshed identity for suicide prevention work in Scotland, to reflect the current level of interest and energy driving public awareness, public health policy and interventions in mental health and suicide prevention. Early discussions with Choose Life Co-ordinators and other stakeholders suggested that this would be strongly supported, and it was recognised that it would require a detailed transition plan. A separate piece of work would need to be developed around this that complemented all the Actions in the SPAP. Action 7.17

5. Meeting Close

5.1. The Chair thanked Members for their attendance and the valuable contributions made. Members were reminded of the changes to frequency and structure of future meetings and asked to liaise with the Secretariat to offer or suggest future venues.  




Attendees and apologies

  • Ms Rose Fitzpatrick (Chair)
  • Mr George Dodds
  • Mr Toni Giugliano                                                                                  
  • Dr David Hall
  • Mr Nigel Henderson
  • Mr James Jopling
  • Dr Amy Knighton
  • Ms Lara McDonald
  • Chief Superintendent John McKenzie
  • Ms Ruth Moss
  • Ms Jane O’Donnell
  • Ms Nicky Reid
  • Dr Michael Smith
  • Mr Billy Watson


  • Dr John Mitchell
  • Ms Angela Scott

In attendance

  • Professor Rory O’Connor - Academic Advisory Group
  • Ms Siobhan Mackay - Scottish Government
  • Ms Mairi Gordon – Samaritan (Communications and Engagement session)
  • Mr Allan Steele - Scottish Government

Items and actions

7:1 – Secretariat to publish February minutes

7:2 – Lived Experience to remain a priority in line with action 3.12

7:3 – Members to indicate venue availability for the May and June NSPLG meetings 

7:4 – Members to update the Secretariat with their Action’s progress. This information will be collated into a highlight report prior to the May NSPLG meeting

7:5 – Secretariat to co-ordinate with Members on creating a Resource Plan ahead of the May meeting. 

7:6 – COSLA to facilitate meetings between the Chair and SOLACE and IJB Chief Officers

7:7 – Members to communicate more closely via the shared inbox to improve stakeholder management and avoid double handling.

7:8 – Secretariat to undertake an exercise to map the actions of the CYPMH Taskforce against the NSPLG Delivery Plan Actions.

7:9 – Dame Denise Coia to be invited to May NSPLG meeting

7:10 – NSPLG and SG to consider what the mechanisms were/should be for fast-time advice to be issued in Scotland on online suicide prevention matters

7:11 – Online environments to be a discussion topic for one of the NSPLG’s first themed discussions

7:12 - All future requests by Members for AAG support to be submitted via the Secretariat

7.13 – In conjunction with Resource Planning, Members to provide an indication for the year ahead of what AAG support they anticipate needing

7:14 – Form a working group for the Integrated Motivational-Volitional Model, made up of NSPLG members

7.15 – Ms O’Donnell and Mr Dodds to discuss training with Local Authorities

7:16 – Ms Gordon and Secretariat to finalise Communication and Engagement Plan based on the discussion today

7:17 – Secretariat and Group to create transition plan away from existing Choose Life material




Mental Health and Protection of Rights Division
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