Suicide prevention leadership group: second annual report

The second annual report of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG).


Rose Fitzpatrick CBE QPM, Chair, National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group

Rose Fitzpatrick CBE QPM
National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group

This is the second annual report of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group, established in September 2018 to support the delivery of Scotland's Suicide Prevention Action Plan Every Life Matters, published in August 2018.

Our work to support progress on the ten actions in Every Life Matters has gathered momentum over the year since the publication of our first annual report in September 2019.  I am grateful to our members, delivery leads, lived experience panel, academic advisory group, COSLA and Scottish Government colleagues and other stakeholders for their sustained efforts as partners in suicide prevention in Scotland.

The COVID-19 pandemic has required all of us as individuals, communities and in organisations to adapt to the changing circumstances it has imposed on us.

Understandably, because of the immediate demands of responding to the pandemic, some of the work to progress the ten actions in Every Life Matters has been paused.  However, as a group, we were able to call on the knowledge and experience of our contributors to react quickly, taking action to identify immediate priorities for suicide prevention in these exceptional times.

Our COVID-19 Statement published in June 2020 made evidence-based recommendations to the Scottish Government and COSLA for action to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on suicidal thoughts and behaviours.  The suicide prevention priorities we recommended were accepted in full.  We know the pandemic will have an influence on the mental health and wellbeing of the population for some time to come and we will remain focused in our efforts to meet this challenge and mitigate its effects in relation to suicide.

Since our 2019 annual report, we have welcomed the creation of Public Health Scotland and begun to work productively with them to help support and strengthen sustainable local leadership in suicide prevention.  Our commitment to this partnership is as strong as that to our relationships with people of lived experience, third, public and private sector organisations, COSLA members and the Scottish Government. 

On World Suicide Prevention Day 10 September 2020 we had the privilege of launching a new suicide prevention identity and public awareness campaign for Scotland.  In doing so we recognise that it will take not only our partnership of organisations, but also every one of us as individuals to make the change we seek and to make suicide prevention everyone’s business. 

The launch of this new movement for change — United to Prevent Suicide — demonstrates our commitment to working with everyone in Scotland to remove stigma and increase confidence in talking about suicide, so that together we can save lives.

Because every life matters.

Rose Fitzpatrick CBE QPM

Chair of Scotland’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group

Clare Haughey MSP, Minister for Mental Health

Clare Haughey MSP
Minister for Mental Health

The progress made over the last year, described in this annual report, has been achieved through the collective, and very much valued efforts of many individuals and organisations across Scotland. I welcome this second annual report from our National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group and reaffirm my view that all of us have a part to play in supporting those people who may be at risk of suicide.

I was pleased to participate in the recent launch of the new identity and public awareness campaign, ‘United to Prevent Suicide’. I commend the Leadership Group’s approach in putting those with lived experience at the centre of developing this new identity. Suicide is a complex subject and very often people find it difficult to discuss. This new movement for change will help to address that by raising awareness of suicide and by encouraging people to be more open, honest and non-judgemental in talking about it.

I am grateful for the work of the Leadership Group and our partners in furthering progress towards the vision set out in Scotland’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan: Every Life Matters, and for the Group’s prompt response earlier in the year in recommending evidence-based actions for suicide prevention during the pandemic. There is more work to be done and I know the Group will continue to provide its vital leadership and drive in our shared determination to save lives.

Clare Haughey

MSP Minister for Mental Health

Councillor Stuart Currie, COSLA Spokesperson for Health and Social Care

Councillor Stuart Currie
COSLA Spokesperson for Health and Social Care

Over the last few months, the Covid pandemic has shone a spotlight on the importance of mental health and suicide prevention in Scotland. The impact of lockdown restrictions; isolation, financial, stress and worry etc. are all factors which contribute to suicide risk. The work of the NSPLG has contributed to our understanding of the impact restrictions may have had for the population in Scotland.

Covid-19 has meant some constraints have been placed on the NSPLG as resources were refocussed on supporting the efforts of the pandemic but despite this, I’m grateful for the considerable progress that has been made on the actions which were prioritised over this period. The NSPLG and lived experience panel have continued to meet remotely releasing a Covid-19 statement which set out recommendations for priority actions during the pandemic and over the longer term all of which were endorsed by COSLA and Scottish Government. 

This continued work means we have seen the launch of a new campaign United to Prevent Suicide, which encourages all of us to sign up to play our part in preventing suicide; the progression of work to support those bereaved by suicide; development of online training resources and the collection and analysis of real time data all of which will support local areas to continue to deliver work aimed at reducing suicide rates.

I commend the commitment of the NSPLG, the lived experience panel and local areas in their continued efforts to deliver this vitally important area of work and look forward to seeing the further progress over the coming year.

Councillor Stuart Currie

COSLA Spokesperson for Health and Social Care



Back to top