National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group minutes: March 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 30 March 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Ms Rose Fitzpatrick (Chair) 
  • Mr Mike Burns
  • Ms Rachel Cackett
  • Ms Julie Cameron
  • Ms Nicola Dickie
  • Dr David Hall 
  • Dr Amy Knighton
  • Ms Nicky Reid
  • Ms Angela Scott
  • Mr Billy Watson

In attendance

  • Professor Rory O’Connor, Academic Advisory Group
  • Professor Steve Platt, Academic Advisory Group
  • Ms Laura MacDonald, Programme Manager
  • Ms Haylis Smith, COSLA (agenda item 3)
  • Ms Shirley Windsor, Public Health Scotland (agenda item 3)
  • Ms Julia Waltham, Samaritans UK (agenda item 5)

Scottish Government

  • Mr Dan Curran
  • Mr Dominic Burns
  • Ms Morag Williamson
  • Mr Craig Wilson
  • Ms Fiona Wilson


  • Dr Carol Buchanan
  • Dr Alastair Cook
  • Ms Fiona Drouet
  • Chief Superintendent Linda Jones
  • Ms Claire Sweeney
  • Ms Claire MacBride-Stewart

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed members to the twenty seventh meeting of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) (“the group”). The meeting took place as a “hybrid meeting” with some members attending in person at the COSLA Conference Centre in Edinburgh, while others joined via MS Teams.

The Chair welcomed Ms Wilson to the meeting as a new member of the Scottish Government’s policy team. It was reported that Mr Alan Thornburrow had stepped down as a Member of the group following his appointment as Chief Executive of the Salvesen Mindroom Centre, with gratitude for his contribution.


Apologies were noted.

February 2022 minutes

The Chair noted that the minutes from the group’s meeting in February had been circulated for comment and requested that any further comments be collated by the Secretariat and sent to her to sign off Action 27.1.

Suicide Prevention Action Plan (SPAP) – programme management update

A programme update and milestone map was shared with the group prior to the meeting. The group noted this and there were no comments.  The Chair noted that Ms Laura MacDonald was moving on from her role as Suicide Prevention Action Plan Project Manager and thanked her for her contribution.

New suicide prevention strategy – feedback from early engagement and input to strategy/action plan

Mr Dominic Burns gave an update on engagement around the new joint Scottish Government and COSLA suicide prevention strategy. He reported that the first phase of events took place at the end of 2021 along with an online questionnaire which closed at the beginning of 2022 and noted that members of the NSPLG had contributed their own personal/host organisation views to that. The data from that first phase was being analysed by an independent body, and a report of the findings would soon be published and shared with the Group. Action 27.2

Mr Burns gave a brief overview of overarching themes that had emerged from the sessions and online submissions to the questionnaire. These included: having suicide prevention training available to everyone; the use of targeted national and local campaigns; changing the use of language to help reduce stigma; the continued involvement of people with lived experience; focus on schools to instil skills in children and young people that they can build and develop throughout life; and ensuring that adequate funding and resources would be available to underpin delivery of any actions taken.

It was reported that the development of the strategy was currently in its ‘second phase‘ which involved targeted engagement with key stakeholders externally, and with other policy areas across Government. This phase would be followed by a six week formal consultation period which had been agreed between the Scottish Government and COSLA, in recognition that extensive engagement would have already taken place to inform the strategy. During this period, which was likely to take place over the summer, both key stakeholders and the wider public would be given the opportunity to comment on drafts of documents.

It was reported that the second phase of the strategy development would build on learning from the first phase and, to help develop the strategy and action plan, the framing of ‘three pillars’, was being used to summarise the feedback from phase 1.

The three pillars were described as: Promoting Suicide Prevention; Preventing Suicide; and Providing Support. It was reported that these pillars demonstrated the need for a system-wide approach to suicide prevention. It was highlighted this was not intended to be a final structure for the strategy. 

A session took place where members broke into groups to discuss the approach in more detail, and discuss case studies to help inform actions to be considered for the action plan. Each group considered a different demographic including “children and young people”, “adults” and “older adults”. It was highlighted that this was an opportunity for members to consider the broad themes and help to build them into specific areas for the suicide prevention strategy and action plan. It was noted that there would be further opportunities to engage, and that one-to-one conversations with members would take place over the coming months. It was also highlighted that Members could contact the policy team directly to raise any issues or suggestions. 

Following the breakout sessions each group shared a brief overview of their discussions, noted by the policy team.

Members’ views on future role of the group

The Chair led a discussion on the future role of the group. She began by highlighting the group’s current role, remit and accountability then shared her thoughts on the new remit from the point that the new suicide prevention strategy launches in September 2022.

There was some discussion on what the group had achieved to date and what positive difference members felt the group had made. 

There was a discussion around what role the group would have and how it could be structured from September 2022 when the new suicide prevention strategy and action plan is launched. It was suggested that the group could make better use of the skills and knowledge of future members in an oversight role. There was recognition the cross-government, national and local framework being proposed for the new suicide prevention strategy would benefit from a group which had a broader membership beyond mental health policy and delivery.

Members were keen that the historical learning of the group should be captured and its commitment to its evidence (by both experience and research) informed way of working should continue, with more consideration given to how that learning could be made more widely available. Members were clear that accountability for delivery of the future suicide prevention strategy should sit with the Scottish Government and COSLA, and that the NSPLG should take on the roles of critical friend, advocate and advisor. They also remained clear that they saw exciting opportunities for the role Public Health Scotland could and should have at the heart of both national and local suicide prevention work.  

Online Safety Bill

The UK Government’s final version of the Online Safety Bill was published on 17 March 2022, and outlined a new regulatory framework to "address illegal and harmful content online, with the aim of preventing harm to individuals in the United Kingdom". Julia Waltham, Head of Policy, Public Affairs & Campaigns, Samaritans UK was invited to present an overview of the Online Safety Bill. The presentation would subsequently be shared with members. Action 27.3

It was reported that the Scottish Government Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, and other Scottish Government Ministers, including the Minister for Children and Young People, had a high level of interest in the Bill. It was noted that there was an opportunity to highlight the need for safeguards to ensure that online space was safe for all users, including those at risk of suicide. It was highlighted that the Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care would like to hear views on any recommendations to ensure that the UK Government Bill was as robust as possible to prevent suicide and self-harm online. Members were asked to contact the policy team to share their views on the Bill in advance of its second reading on 19 April. Action 27.4

It was noted that a four nation call with the UK Government to discuss the Bill in more detail would be taking place, and members were invited to send any questions to the Policy Team. Ms Dickie and Ms Cackett agreed to connect to agree questions around Children and Young People. Ms Cackett and the policy team undertook to create a joint briefing between Samaritans and the Scottish Government. Action 27.5


The Chair closed the meeting and thanked the group for their strong and varied contributions to the important topics considered.

The next meeting of the group was due to take place on 25 May 2022.

Summary of actions from the NSPLG meeting held on 30 March 2022

  • 27.1 Members to send any amendments to the February minutes to the Secretariat
  • 27.2 Mr D Burns to share report of the findings from first phase of engagement events for the next suicide prevention strategy with the Group when it is published
  • 27.3 Secretariat to share Samaritans‘ presentation on Online Safety Bill
  • 27.4 Members to share their views on the Online Safety Bill with the policy team
  • 27.5 Ms Cackett and the policy team to create a joint briefing on the Online Safety Bill between Samaritans and the Scottish Government
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