National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group: terms of reference

Remit and terms of reference for the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG).


Scotland is a country where suicide is preventable.  Anyone contemplating suicide, or whose life has been touched by suicide, receives the support they need.


The National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) has been established to help drive implementation of the Scottish Government’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan (2018), which sets out a target to further reduce the rate of suicide by 20% by 2022 (from a 2017 baseline). The Group will operate by collaborative leadership and will support, challenge and facilitate activity to influence change, remove barriers and ensure progress against the Action Plan. The Group will work with energy, commitment, pace and impact.


The National Suicide Prevention Action Plan sets out the Group remit as:

  • include representation from services and stakeholders, including the third sector and people with direct experience of suicide through bereavement or those who have previously experienced suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide
  • oversee a delivery plan of identified actions and priorities to achieve the vision set out in the National Suicide Prevention Action Plan. This delivery plan will be published in December 2018 
  • facilitate national improvement work to support local suicide prevention activity
  • engage with relevant stakeholders, including but not limited to integration authorities, local authorities, health and justice professionals to support the development of actions and priorities that will inform local strategic planning and partnership approaches to realise the vision set out in the National Suicide Prevention Strategy
  • coordinate the public debate and progress a programme of work to prevent suicide
  • make recommendations to the Scottish Government on action needed within the responsibility of the Scottish Government, and to COSLA where there is a specific responsibility of local government or integration authorities
  • report to Ministers and to COSLA regularly on progress, including through a publicly available annual report. This will be published annually from September 2019

Lifetime of the group

A review of the Group will be conducted after the first 18 months to ensure that the remit and membership remain fit for purpose.  The first Chair appointment is for 18 months.

Accountability, decision making and reporting

The Group is an independent and time-limited advisory and collaborative leadership group. It has no executive functions. It will report, through the Chair, to Scottish Ministers and also to COSLA on issues that sit within the competence of local government and integration authorities.

The Group is not established on a statutory basis. It is therefore not subject to the formal public appointments process and the requirements of the Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies in Scotland.  Members are appointed by Scottish Ministers, taking into account the views of the Chair.

Decision making will be as far as possible by consensus, or by majority if consensus is not reached, with the Chair having a casting vote if necessary. Attendance of 9 members will be considered quorate. 

All members of the Group and those asked to participate in work involving the Group will be asked to declare any conflicts of interest. Any action to be taken on the basis of these declarations will be at the discretion of the Chair. If it is the Chair who has a conflict of interest, the Chair will ask another member of the Group to lead in determining the appropriate course of action.

The Group will regularly report to Ministers, and to COSLA on issues that sit within the competence of local government and integration authorities, including through a publicly available annual report which will be published annually from September 2019. 


A secretariat will be provided by Scottish Government in collaboration with other stakeholder organisations. 


Scottish Government will invest £1 million annually over the course of this current Parliament to support the Suicide Prevention Action Plan, Every Life Matters, and the work of the NSPLG. This will be managed by Scottish Government, informed by recommendations made by the NSPLG.


The work of the Group will support the human rights based approach outlined in the Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy 2017-2027 and in particular will focus on Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights: the right to life.  The Group will use as a tool to support that approach the PANEL principles: Participation, Accountability, Nondiscrimination and equality, Empowerment and Legality. 

The Group will respect the sensitive nature of suicide prevention and will seek to promote a safe and supportive environment for those participating in its work.  The Group will respect the privacy and confidentiality of any personal experiences and information shared by individuals.  It will be sensitive to the needs of those Members and participants, including in respect of the language used in its discussions and work.

Frequency of meetings and locations

The Group will meet monthly until the end of 2018.  Meeting frequency will be reviewed early in 2019. Any matters which need to be decided on outwith the schedule of meetings may be dealt with by correspondence.

Meetings will take place in accessible locations. Members are encouraged to offer suitable accommodation within their own organisations. Although the Group is independent, suitable Scottish Government accommodation may be used if other accommodation is not available.

Should the Group establish workstreams or sub-groups to progress activity, the Group will decide the frequency of those meetings along with membership, governance and reporting arrangements.

Stakeholder engagement

In order to achieve the vision of the Action Plan, the Group will need to engage with, and influence change, beyond the remit of individuals who are Members of the Group.  This may include inviting individuals and organisations with specialist interest or expertise to provide insight and/or evidence at meetings of the Group as well as, for example:

  • establishing workstreams that report to the Group
  • facilitating events
  • attending meetings of related groups and/or organisations
  • digital interaction and engagement
  • creation of a public facing communication and engagement strategy

Role of the chair

The Chair of the NSPLG is responsible for leading meetings of the Group and for agreeing the Group’s strategic direction and business – in discussion with Members, the Minister for Mental Health and COSLA. 

Role of members

Members are appointed individually and personally and are expected to make every effort to attend all meetings of the NSPLG. Deputies will therefore not be accepted.

Members should actively engage with the work of the Group, taking responsibility for and progressing actions, where agreed by the Group.

All Members, including the Chair, will be active advocates for the Suicide Prevention Action Plan and the work of the Group, sharing and promoting collaborative leadership within their representative organisations and broader communities to deliver the commitments of the Action Plan.

Code of conduct

All Members, including the Chair, agree to work together in the following ways:

  • to work in accordance with these Terms of Reference for the NSPLG
  • to work collaboratively to progress the purpose and remit of the Group
  • to promote a safe, supportive, respectful and sensitive environment for Members and those participating in its work
  • to attend the majority of meetings
  • to observe good time keeping
  • to prepare effectively for meetings and engage appropriately in agreed activities between meetings
  • to take individual responsibility for engaging and completing assigned tasks
  • to use electronic devices for note taking and presentations only during meetings


The Chair will be remunerated for her or his time, in accordance with the Scottish Government Public Sector Pay Policy.  Travel and subsistence will be paid at normal Scottish Government rates where necessary.

Members are appointed individually and personally to the Group.  Those whose attendance is supported by their employer as part of their paid employment will not receive remuneration.  However, travel and subsistence will be paid at normal Scottish Government rates, unless this is already covered by a Member’s regular working arrangements.

Members whose attendance is not supported by their employer as part of their paid employment, may be remunerated appropriately for their time.  Travel and subsistence will be paid at normal Scottish Government rates.


The Terms of Reference, the Delivery Plan, annual reports, membership and minutes of meetings will be published on the SG website. 

The Group may make other documentation and resources public on relevant media platforms where appropriate and in accordance with its communication and engagement strategy.  





Mental Health and Protection of Rights Division
3ER, St Andrews House
Regent Road


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