Suicide prevention leadership group: second annual report

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

Update on Progress of Every Life Matters Actions and NSPLG Recommendations[5]

Local Suicide Prevention Planning, Guidance, Good Practice And Evaluation

Action 1 of the Suicide Prevention Action Plan, and recommendations 3 & 4 of the First Annual Report of the NSPLG

Much of the work planned for this year in relation to action 1 of Every Life Matters and recommendations 3 and 4 of the NSPLG 2019 annual report has been delayed due to the pressures on local partners during the pandemic.  As that work resumes it builds on activity prior to the pandemic, including face to face engagement with local suicide prevention leads across Scotland when each local lead provided details of their current activities and, where available, a copy of their local suicide prevention action plan.  These plans were analysed and mapped on to Every Life Matters and local leads were asked what would be helpful for them in translating national work to a local level.

Work was also carried out with local leads to identify and analyse a range of suicide prevention planning guidance documents available from across the world with a view to developing best practice guidance for all local suicide prevention partnerships in Scotland.  As the immediate pandemic response demand eases, work will be taken forward to complete draft best practice suicide prevention planning guidance, which will then be tested in two or three local partnership areas.

Mental Health And Suicide Prevention Training

Action 2 of the Suicide Prevention Action Plan

The Mental Health Improvement and Self Harm and Suicide Prevention Knowledge and Skills Framework, alongside a workforce development plan, was published by NHS Education for Scotland in 2019 in partnership with NHS Health Scotland (now Public Health Scotland) and the Scottish Government.[6]  This framework is aimed at those working across health and social care settings and beyond, and identifies the knowledge and skills required across four levels of professional practice: informed, skilled, enhanced and specialist.

Learning animations aimed at the informed level for those supporting adults in mental health improvement and the prevention of suicide were initially launched in 2019, and have subsequently been further developed as an eLearning module.  As at the end of August 2020, these animations had been accessed by almost 14,000 people on Vimeo and over 2,500 people have engaged with this content on the NHS Education for Scotland Turas Learn eLearning site.[7] 

A new series of animations was launched in September 2020 addressing mental health improvement and the prevention of self-harm and suicide by children and young people, aimed specifically at those working with children and young people in health and social care settings.[8]

children and young people animations

Engagement and partnership working has been vital in the development of learning resources to support the knowledge and skills framework.  Examples include:

  • Working with Volunteer Scotland in the development of a training plan to support volunteers working in mental health.

“I would like to thank Public Heath Scotland and NHS Education for Scotland for their support and commitment to our Mental Health Volunteer programme. Their sharing of learning materials and knowledge, enhanced the learning journey of our volunteers.”

Adrian Murtagh, Head of Volunteer Practice, Volunteer Scotland

  • Engagement events with young people in the development of the children and young people animations.
  • A Scotland-wide workshop for mental health nurses and allied health professionals, facilitated by the Mental Health Nursing Forum for Scotland, exploring learning needs at the enhanced level of the knowledge and skills framework.

These animations have also reached a wider audience, not captured in the figure given above for the number of people who have viewed them via Vimeo and Turas. 

Notably, many local authorities and other organisations outside the health and social care network have also chosen to made these animations available to their workforces, members and service users through their organisational intranet or as part of training programmes.  Examples include:

  • The National Rural Mental Health Forum
  • Abbey Vale Football Club
  • Aberdeen City Council
  • Police Scotland
  • Scottish Prison Service

Work specific to action 2 of Every Life Matters was unavoidably paused for a short period during the pandemic.  However, to support the needs of the health and social care workforce during this period, pandemic-specific learning resources were developed, including:

Raising Public Awareness And Building A Social Movement For Suicide Prevention

Action 3 of the Suicide Prevention Action Plan; recommendation 8 of the First Annual Report of the NSPLG and priority 2 of the NSPLG’s COVID-19 Statement

The NSPLG launched Scotland’s new United to Prevent Suicide identity and public awareness campaign — the start of a social movement — on World Suicide Prevention Day, 10 September 2020. 

NSPLG lived experience panel members were at the heart of developing the United to Prevent Suicide identity and materials, having been invited to participate in face to face sessions with the creative agency commissioned to develop proposals for the new suicide prevention branding.  Panel members met with the NSPLG chair and those NSPLG members leading this work and gave detailed constructive feedback on the proposals, based on their own lived experiences of the impacts of suicide.

The creative agency took those views and returned with a revised version of the new identity and branding, which panel members wholeheartedly welcomed and endorsed.  Individual members then most generously supported the launch of the United to Prevent Suicide campaign and movement by sharing publicly their own experiences of the impacts of suicide, and their passion for this work, in broadcast media interviews which were moving and influential in calling for change.

NSPLG lived experience panel members reported that during this process they felt their input and lived experience had been valued highly and received open-mindedly by the NSPLG, so that they had been able genuinely to influence this foundational element of Every Life Matters.  The views of each individual panel member and their willingness to be simultaneously supportive and challenging undoubtedly influenced for the better and strengthened Scotland’s new suicide prevention identity, branding and social movement, United to Prevent Suicide

More action is planned by the NSPLG for the coming months to extend the reach of our suicide prevention campaign, which is funded and fully supported by the Scottish Government as part of its Suicide Prevention Action Plan Every Life Matters.

The challenge for all of us who consider ourselves to be stakeholders in suicide prevention in Scotland is to promote this new United to Prevent Suicide social movement, to harness the power of individuals to ask for help and give it, and in achieving that, to save lives from suicide.



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