National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group minutes: November 2021

Minutes from the group's meeting on 10 November 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Ms Rose Fitzpatrick (Chair) 
  • Dr Carol Buchanan
  • Mr Mike Burns
  • Ms Rachel Cackett
  • Ms Julie Cameron
  • Dr Alastair Cook
  • Ms Nicola Dickie
  • Ms Fiona Drouet
  • Dr David Hall 
  • Dr Amy Knighton
  • Ms Nicky Reid
  • Ms Angela Scott
  • Ms Claire Sweeney

In Attendance

  • Professor Rory O’Connor, Academic Advisory Group
  • Professor Steve Platt, Academic Advisory Group
  • Ms Laura MacDonald, Programme Manager
  • Ms Claire MacBride-Stewart, Programme Support Officer

Scottish Government

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


  • Chief Superintendent Linda Jones
  • Mr Alan Thornburrow
  • Mr Billy Watson

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

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

The Chair welcomed Mr Mike Burns, Penumbra and Ms Nicola Dickie, COSLA as new members of the group.


Apologies were noted.

September 2021 minutes

The Chair noted that the minutes from the group’s meeting in September had been circulated for comment and requested that any further comments be collated by the Secretariat and sent to her to sign off Action 25.1.

Ms Williamson gave an update on actions she took from the previous meeting. Firstly, she reported that discussions were ongoing to scope the “mental health workforce” commitment in the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government. The intention was to engage widely with stakeholders and partners to take the work forward, reflecting the fact that the workforce providing mental health services and support was found across a wide range of sectors and settings. Secondly, she confirmed that along with Public Health Scotland, she would continue to look for opportunities to make connections between place making approaches and suicide prevention, and share those with the group.    

Suicide Prevention Action Plan (SPAP) – Programme Management update

A programme update had been shared with the group prior to the meeting. Ms MacDonald reported that funding for Police Scotland’s proposal to collate historical data on deaths from 2019 and 2020 from each of Police Scotland’s local divisions to enhance a new sharing process between Police Scotland and Public Health Scotland had been approved by the Scottish Government.

It was reported that the last Delivery Lead meeting featured an update on the Lived Experience Panel’s activity and a discussion around how members can be more involved in ongoing work, such as working with the United to Prevent Suicide movement and engaging with local suicide prevention leads. It was reported that, due to a number of members standing down as they had sat on the Panel for a number of years, the Lived Experience Panel were looking to recruit new members.

A Risk and Issue Management Strategy had been shared with the group prior to the meeting. The document outlined the group’s approach to risk and issue management to ensure that risks and issues were identified and managed in a consistent manner, at all levels across the delivery of the Suicide Prevention Action Plan. The Strategy was approved by the Group.

It was reported that the group’s recommendations for a Time, Space, Compassion approach to crisis support had been accepted by the Scottish Government. It was noted that Nigel Henderson, former Chief Executive of Penumbra and former NSPLG member, had been appointed as National Lead to take forward this work, and that a Suicidal Crisis Support Action Group was being established. The action group would work closely with the NSPLG, and membership of the group would be finalised shortly.

It was reported that bids to host Action 8’s Youth Advisory Group had gone to tender with the intention that the group would be established by January 2022.

The Chair highlighted that, in the coming weeks, she would be having her quarterly meeting with the Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care to discuss the work of the group and would also be attending a meeting the Minister is holding with local suicide prevention leads.

Policy update 

Mr Curran provided a policy update. He reported that funding from the Scottish Government’s Recovery and Renewal Fund had been awarded to Samaritans to support place-based activity in the west Highlands and Skye and their national 24/7 telephone helpline.

It was reported that work was underway to recruit for posts to support local suicide prevention action, also funded by the Recovery and Renewal Fund. These roles would be hosted by Public Health Scotland, working in close collaboration with the Scottish Government and COSLA. 

It was reported that CRUSE Bereavement Support had been provided with funding to offer support to workplaces whose staff had been affected by the suicide of a colleague. It was noted that CRUSE were now represented on the National Oversight Group for the Action 4 bereavement support pilot.

It was reported that funding had been agreed for Penumbra working with partners to provide new self-harm pilot services. It was also noted that the Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care recently announced that the Scottish Goverment would publish a standalone self-harm strategy and action plan, which would link to the suicide prevention strategy. It was noted that the new NSPLG Youth Advisory Group could offer valuable input to this work. The Minister had taken part in an interview with the BBC on self-harm, and the policy team undertook to share a link to this. Action 25.2

Suicide Prevention Strategy update

Mr Dominic Burns provided the group with an update on the development of the new suicide prevention strategy. It was reported that early engagement would take place over two phases, that would run simultaneously. The first phase involved regional and national engagement events running from September to mid-November 2021 and an online questionnaire. It was noted that 134 people had responded to the questionnaire and 35 events had taken place to date. It was reported that positive feedback had been received over the sessions and key themes were emerging from responses and conversations so far. The engagement of primary care representatives was raised and it was noted that analysis would be undertaken to identify any groups or communities who may not have engaged in this first phase and detailed analysis of the responses gathered would begin in mid-November.

It was reported that the second phase of work would focus on engagement with specific groups and communities, and there had already been engagement with the Scottish Government’s Equalities and Human Rights Forum. Mr Burns undertook to connect with members around engagement with children and young people, and primary care. Action 25.3

NSPLG planning – 2021/22

There was a broad-ranging discussion around the group’s priorities over the next ten months in the lead up to the conclusion of the current Suicide Prevention Action Plan and publication of the new suicide prevention strategy in September 2022. The group also considered ways in which it could provide strategic leadership to support the new strategy. It was agreed that smaller groups would meet to take these discussions forward. Action 25.4

There was a discussion around how to take forward and build on the work that the group had done around “at risk” groups. The group considered the definition of “at risk” and how it could identify and engage with further groups. It was suggested that a working group could be set up to take this forward.

It was reported that a strategic partnership had been agreed between local authorities, health boards, integrated joint boards and some social sector organizations across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray to take forward work around suicide prevention in Grampian, and this group was keen to be engage with the NSPLG. Ms Scott undertook to share the partnership agreement with the group when available. Action 25.5

It was noted that, in line with the group’s recommendation, the focus of the new strategy should include but move beyond mental health policy and, through the group’s work with the Lived Experience Panel, Academic Advisory Group, and Youth Advisory Group, engagement should be made with other policy areas and sectors. 


The Chair thanked the group for their individual and collective contributions to suicide prevention in Scotland over the last year, which were particularly notable in the context of being unable to meet in person because of pandemic constraints. She extended her thanks to all members of the broader NSPLG network – including members of the Lived Experience Panel and Academic Advisory Group, the delivery leads and policy team members – and wished everyone a healthy Christmas and a happy and productive new year.

The next meeting of the group would take place on 2 February 2022. 

Summary of actions from the NSPLG meeting held on 10 November 2021 

  • 25.1 members to send any amendments to the September minutes to the Secretariat
  • 25.2 policy team to circulate the link to the BBC interview with the Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care around self-harm
  • 25.3 Mr Dominic Burns to connect with members around engagement with children and young people, and primary care for the new suicide prevention strategy
  • 25.4 Secretariat to arrange meetings for members to consider how the group could provide strategic leadership to support the new suicide prevention strategy
  • 25.5 Ms Scott to share the Grampian partnership agreement with the group
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