The Scottish Government published its Suicide Prevention Action Plan: Every Life Matters in 2018. The National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) was established in September 2018 by the Scottish Government to support the delivery of Every Life Matters. Membership of the NSPLG reflects the range of partners involved in suicide prevention, and most importantly includes those with lived experience of the impacts of suicide. Our remit, minutes and other publications of interest are available online. We report and make recommendations to Scottish Ministers, and to COSLA on matters under the responsibility of local government.
The ten actions in Every Life Matters have been supplemented by the eleven recommendations made in September 2019 in our first annual report and more recently by the four recommendations made in June 2020 in our COVID-19 Statement. This, our second annual report, gives an overview and update on progress over the past year. The COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent need for delivery partners’ efforts to be temporarily focused elsewhere has meant that some work has not progressed as far as all those involved would have wished. In the meantime, however, in our COVID-19 Statement we were able to draw on the best evidence relevant to suicide prevention in a pandemic to recommend specific immediate priorities to mitigate against the risks of suicide in these exceptional times.
Statistical data on suicide rates has not yet been published for 2019 because during the pandemic a number of toxicology tests remain outstanding, resulting in delays in finalising the causes of deaths. These statistics are part of the National Records of Scotland’s ‘Death from various causes’ report due for publication in November 2020. Our work will continue to be led by the most recent data and evidence as it becomes available, and we ask people not to speculate about suicide rates in the absence of such data and evidence. We strongly promote the importance, now more than ever, of improving the collection and dissemination of real time data on self-harm and suicide, on which preventative action can be firmly based. Work on the collection and analysis of 'real-time' data is already underway and a first report was submitted to the NSPLG in September.