Suicide prevention strategy development: early engagement - summary report

Summary report of views gathered during the early engagement phase to support development of Scotland's new suicide prevention strategy and action plan 2022.

Policy Areas

Many respondents both within the workshops and survey noted that there are a wide range of policy areas that can impact on suicide prevention strategies.

Mental Health

Alcohol, drug and gambling addictions and their potential to have an adverse impact on mental health were frequently mentioned by respondents. It was suggested that addiction is a “huge issuein the grip of addiction”. Others suggested that mental health services should be provided to those still “” -in some areas this does not appear to be the case.

Perinatal mental health can also be a contributory factor to suicide ideation, and it was suggested that it would be beneficial to “dovetail this area with others to ensure that the focus is on where the need for intervention is”.

Social Care

The main areas of focus were adult social care, care leavers and looked after children. Respondents in the survey mentioned that there needs to be an understanding of the “support and experiences of difficulties” in care settings.

Criminal Justice

Police and prison services were mentioned frequently as officers in these services have a high probability of coming into direct contact with individuals with suicide ideation. Many respondents noted that those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts and seek help may phone emergency services and are incarcerated whilst the relevant organisations are contacted. It was suggested this should be avoided, and that workers from relevant services and police officers offer support simultaneously. Training for police officers, call handlers and for staff and prisoners in the prison service was referenced on a number of occasions.


Consideration should be given to raising awareness of suicide prevention at all educational stages from primary to tertiary. Many respondents noted the need for earlier intervention in a school setting as the “earlier people are able to talk and build resilience to challenges that often lead to suicide the better for their future”.

Survey responses from organisations mentioned that tackling bullying and discrimination in schools could alleviate suicidal deaths in individuals who are LGBTQI, experience disability or are BME.


Access to affordable transport can play a key role in enabling individuals who have to travel to get the support they require that is not locally available.


Ensuring individuals have access to affordable housing along with support to sustain their tenancies was frequently mentioned by respondents. It was also suggested that individuals in hostels and residential units might need extra support to tackle loneliness and isolation.


Poverty, according to some individual survey respondents, was an “enormous factor” that had to be considered in any suicide prevention strategy. It was suggested that addressing social, health and economic inequalities at a strategic level would assist in preventing suicide. At a local level specific community based activities targeted at the most vulnerable individuals were seen as offering practical support aimed at suicide prevention and crisis intervention. However, it was acknowledged that to continue to provide support services such organisations will need to be “better resourced and supported.”

Examples of Training, Interventions, and Activity

There were many examples of activity highlighted in the workshop sessions and survey results. Information came from a wide range of individuals. A selection of the suggestions put forward are listed below. Please note these are based solely on participant responses and cover Scotland, the UK, and internationally.

Scotland - National & Local Initiatives

Ask Tell Respond learning resources on mental health, self harm and suicide prevention for Scottish workforce (sign up to TURAS required for access).

Course: Mental health improvement, self-harm and suicide prevention (





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