This is the fourth annual report of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG), established by the Scottish Government in September 2018 to support delivery of its Suicide Prevention Action Plan - Every Life Matters.
This report highlights milestones over the last four years in our work to make suicide in Scotland preventable and everyone’s business. That work has only been possible because, at the outset, we established both our NSPLG Lived Experience Panel (LEP) and NSPLG Academic Advisory Group (AAG). Our NSPLG network is soon to be joined by our new NSPLG Youth Advisory Group (YAG).
Bringing together on an equal footing the diverse expertise of those experiencing the impacts of suicide, suicide prevention practitioners and academic experts has been a first for Scotland. Its effectiveness has been recognised internationally by the World Health Organisation (WHO), it has underpinned the development of Scotland’s new Suicide Prevention Strategy - Creating Hope Together and it will strengthen the delivery of that strategy over the next ten years.
We have never lost sight of the fact that every loss of life to suicide is a tragedy for the families, friends and communities left behind. While the suicide rate in Scotland is now below the five year average and the number of deaths has reduced in each of the last two years, every one of the 753 people who lost their lives to suicide in Scotland in 2021 is grieved for, and their loss compels us to do more.
Our NSPLG, LEP, YAG and AAG roles will now evolve to serve the vision of the new strategy: to reduce the number of suicide deaths in Scotland, whilst tackling the inequalities which contribute to suicide. The strategy has been launched at a time when post-pandemic pressures and the cost of living crisis give rise to grave concerns. We welcome the fact that, alongside mental health policy, it broadens suicide prevention into the social determinants of suicide, such as poverty and inequalities.
Over the years to come the terms of reference and membership of our NSPLG network may change, but our absolute commitment to making suicide in Scotland preventable will remain unshakeable and we will do our best to make suicide prevention everyone’s business.
Rose Fitzpatrick CBE QPM
Chair, National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group
We are delighted to welcome the fourth annual report from our National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG). This report highlights the many significant achievements made over the last four years in delivering the Suicide Prevention Action Plan (2018-2022), Every Life Matters.
Over the past four years, the NSPLG’s work has brought real drive and visibility to suicide prevention across Scotland. The Group’s leadership approach offers a great example of partnership working, united by our shared mission of preventing suicide.
We are grateful to all NSPLG members for their contribution, commitment and insights which have together made a real difference in preventing suicide. Recent highlights include:
- Creating innovative ways to raise awareness and tackle the stigma of suicide. This includes continuing to build Scotland’s social movement ‘United to Prevent Suicide’ and the recent campaigns ‘FC United to Prevent Suicide’ and ‘Better Tomorrow’, which was designed to reach children and young people.
- Finding new ways to ensure our work is grounded in lived experience. The new Youth Advisory Group will be instrumental to ensuring the views of children and young people are central to designing responses that meet their needs. The established Lived Experience Panel is a great model to build on.
- Increasing support for local suicide prevention, with a new implementation team established to support local areas to plan and evaluate their work, as well as ensuring good practice and learning is shared right across Scotland. There has also been excellent engagement and collaboration with partners to support work on locations of concern.
- Continuing to support families bereaved by suicide through the pilot service in Ayrshire & Arran and Highland. We know from the recently published first evaluation report that the service has already made a real difference in supporting families with their practical and emotional needs.
The NSPLG’s work over the last four years has created an excellent platform to now drive forward the new strategy, Creating Hope Together: Scotland’s Suicide Prevention Strategy 2022-2032. The NSPLG’s experience in driving suicide prevention in Scotland over the last four years has also guided the Scottish Government and COSLA in developing the new strategy, consistently offering positive and constructive support and insight. We have also benefited greatly from the incredible contributions from the Lived Experience Panel and the Academic Advisory Group.
We would like to offer our sincere, heartfelt thanks to NSPLG members for their work to prevent suicide over the last four years. Their work has helped connect and grow the suicide prevention community across Scotland. Members should also feel proud that the excellent model of suicide prevention in Scotland has been commended on the international stage by the World Health Organisation.
We now look forward to working with the NSPLG as we take forward the priorities set out in the new strategy.
Kevin Stewart MSP
Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care
Councillor Paul Kelly
COSLA Spokesperson for Health and Social Care
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