National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group minutes: May 2021

Minutes from the group's meeting on 26 May 2021.

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed Members to the twenty second meeting of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) (“the Group”).

The Chair welcomed Dr Buchanan to her first meeting as a Member and co-sponsor of Action 7, and invited Dr Buchanan to introduce herself and give a brief overview of her background. The Chair welcomed Ms MacBride-Stewart to the meeting. The Chair noted that Ms Ferguson would be joining the meeting for agenda item 5.


Apologies were noted.

March 2021 minutes

The Chair noted that the minutes from the Group’s meeting in March had been circulated for comment and requested that any further comments be collated by the Secretariat and sent to her to sign off. Action 22.1

Suicide prevention strategy and infrastructure update

Ms Williamson confirmed the new Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care as Mr Kevin Stewart. Mr Stewart was very supportive of the ongoing work on suicide prevention, and particularly valued the important role of the Lived Experience Panel as part of the NSPLG’s approach.

Work is ongoing between Scottish Government, COSLA and Public Health Scotland on planning the next suicide prevention strategy. It is intended that a high level plan will be shared with the Group shortly. Members will be invited to play an active role in the development of the strategy. ACTION 22.2

It was reported that COSLA Leaders recently met and there is strong support for the future strategy across all members. It was noted that Cllr Currie, Chair of COSLA Health and Social Care Board, had written to the Minister seeking an initial meeting. It was highlighted there are clear commitment and opportunities to deepen the work the Group is leading at a local level.

Finally, it was noted that further proposals for investment under the Mental Health Recovery and Renewal fund were expected to be considered by the Minister throughout June.

Public Health Scotland’s (PHS) suicide prevention plans – update

Ms Sweeney provided an update on Public Health Scotland’s strategic workplan for 2021/22. It was noted that Public Health Scotland would be working collaboratively at local and national level, given its dual accountability role to Scottish Government and COSLA.

It was highlighted that four key work strands have been identified: Covid 19; Mental Wellbeing; Community and Place; and Poverty and Children. The work undertaken would be outcomes focussed and evidence based, to ensure that it leads to tangible change to public health. Anticipated outcomes of the work include: enhanced knowledge and skills of Scottish workforce; better use of data to inform national and local planning and service review; and continued collaborative partnerships with national and local stakeholders. It was noted that development of an impact framework is ongoing and Members were invited to contact Ms Sweeney for further discussion and to share learning.

It was agreed that there was scope to improve the connections between the work lead by the Group and the network of Local Suicide Prevention Leads currently supported by PHS, and this was actively being worked on. Ms Sweeney undertook to share a list of local suicide prevention leads with the Group. ACTION 22.3

2021/22 budget planning

It was reported that a budget planning workshop took place with Delivery Leads in April. This was intended to provide a robust baseline for budget planning and would be an iterative process over the year. Members were invited to highlight any budget proposals at an early stage to the policy team. Ms Williamson reported that the policy team are confident that all current commitments would be fulfilled this year. A budget forecast had been circulated and it was noted that regular updates on budget would be shared with the Group, for review and discussion.

Suicide prevention action plan update (incl. Covid recommendations)

Action 1 – local planning

It was reported that the local suicide prevention guidance had been launched in April and some local areas were testing the guidance. The Action 1 Delivery Lead was working on this with local Suicide Prevention Leads.

Action 3 – public awareness

It was reported that work has been commissioned to develop a digital hub for the United To Prevent Suicide campaign as well as two further public awareness campaigns which would be launched this year. The first campaign would focus on men’s mental health and was planned to launch in June/July. The second campaign would focus on young people during Mental Health Awareness week in October. A tendering exercise would shortly take place to deliver the second campaign.

Action 4 – suicide bereavement support

It was reported that work continued to progress with the suicide bereavement pilot which was due to launch in the summer. Work was underway to finalise membership of the National Oversight Group which would oversee delivery of the pilot.

Action 5 – crisis support

Recommendations for crisis support had been circulated to the Group and final feedback was requested to the Delivery Lead by Friday 4 June. ACTION 22.4 Proposals for the next steps would then be developed.

Action 6 – digital

It was reported that progress was continuing on the safer online journeys proposal and discussions were ongoing with NHS 24 to finalise this soon, for circulation to members for approval.

Action 7 – at-risk groups

The Action 7 sponsors thanked the Group for providing good contacts and resources to support the work on veterans. Developments were underway and a substantive update would be provided at the meeting in July.

Action 8 – children and young people

Ms Ferguson, Delivery Lead for Action 8, reported that a proposal was being developed to establish a Youth Advisory Group consisting of 16-25 year olds whose lives have been impacted by suicide, self-harm, or poor mental health. The Youth Advisory Group would ensure the experience and voice of young people shaped this action, and by doing so ensure the needs of children and young people were rightly promoted. It was noted that this work would have strong connections with the Scottish Government’s Children and Young People’s Mental Wellbeing Delivery Board and connections would also be made with the Transdisciplinary Research for the Improvement of Youth Mental Public Health (TRIUMPH) network. COSLA were thanked for their support with this action and the full proposal would be shared with the Group in due course, for feedback and then approval.

Action 10 – reviews

It was reported that there continued to be some challenges around information sharing to allow reviews to take place, however progress was being made. In discussion it was highlighted that it could be challenging for local staff to navigate across all the work ongoing on mental health, as well as other priorities, such as The Promise. There was a discussion around providing clear communications with Community Planning Partnerships and Chief Officer Groups at local level not only about national suicide prevention activity, but also more broadly across the range of mental health and wellbeing work. Scottish Government and COSLA colleagues undertook to discuss how best to improve this. ACTION 22.5.

Conclusion and dates of future meetings

The Chair highlighted that an event to celebrate the achievements of the NSPLG Lived Experience Panel would take place on 2 June. She noted that all Members had been invited and that a thank you card had been sent to all Panel members signed by the NSPLG Chair on behalf of the Group.

The Chair thanked everyone for their contributions and noted that meetings for the remainder of 2021 would take place on 21 July, 15 September and 10 November.

Attendees and apologies

  • Ms Rose Fitzpatrick (Chair)
  • Dr Carol Buchanan
  • Ms Rachel Cackett
  • Ms Julie Cameron
  • Dr Alastair Cook
  • Ms Fiona Drouet
  • Dr David Hall
  • Mr Nigel Henderson
  • Dr Amy Knighton
  • Ms Jane O’Donnell
  • Ms Angela Scott
  • Ms Claire Sweeney
  • Mr Billy Watson

In attendance

  • Professor Rory O’Connor
  • (Academic Advisory Group)
  • Ms Jenny Ferguson (COSLA, NSPLG Action 8 Delivery Lead)
  • Ms Claire MacBride-Stewart (Programme Support Officer)
  • Mr Keir McDonald (Scottish Government)
  • Ms Morag Williamson (Scottish Government)
  • Mr Craig Wilson (Scottish Government)


  • Mr Warren Hawke
  • Chief Superintendent Linda Jones
  • Ms Lara McDonald
  • Professor Steve Platt
  • Mr Alan Thornburrow
  • Mr Craig Whyte
  • Mr Dan Curran
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