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.

Theme Two - Early Intervention

As with other themes the need for training/capacity building and increased use of the media to raise awareness were highlighted. Given that the suggestions made were along similar lines to those already outlined in the crosscutting themes or developed in other themes they will not be considered further in this section.

The starting point for many comments was that there was a need to make people aware of available support services and to encourage individuals to use them. Both individual and organisational respondents stressed the need for timely intervention.

“People don’t know when they should seek help, ‘others are worse off than me’ type of approach and therefore wait until they are in crisis – need to raise awareness that seeking support earlier would be better.”

Access to Support Services

Many of the respondents commented on support services at different stages - in relation to how they are accessed, the nature of the provider and the method of delivery.

The need for services to be provided consistently on a universal basis was regularly stated. It was suggested that the threshold for accessing services should be reviewed to make access easier. Aligned to this, it was stated that clearer routes for accessing support and making referrals were required.

There were suggestions that the majority of support happens outwith formal support services and that having an informal support network is essential. It was suggested that peer support was important and should be promoted.

“A good support network can be the answer for people and helping them understand this would be beneficial – family, peer to peer etc. – if people don’t have these networks, we need to support them to develop these.”

As in other themes, reference was made to the need for public and third sector services to be better linked and co-ordinated

There were mixed views on the role of health services with some suggesting a greater focus on support from primary care and others stating that it should be kept separate.

Information Sharing

Sharing relevant data in a proportionate manner could contribute to supporting early intervention.

“Data sharing challenges can limit what can be done around early intervention, something needs to change so we can focus more on early intervention rather than learn from suicide events.”

“People do not want to have to retell their story but need to get the balance right so that e.g. your physio doesn’t get the info that you have attempted suicide.”

Actions supporting early Intervention

Various activities were suggested that might reduce the risk of crises being reached. These included recognising the value and importance of non-clinical approaches such as social prescribing or community based activities along similar lines to those suggested in relation to the prevention theme.

“Emotional support and active listening can prevent people getting to crisis point – increase peer support (walking groups/tea & toast sessions).”

Many respondents proposed that support should be targeted at individuals who were likely to experience challenges as a result of life changing events e.g. unemployment, retirement, serious medical diagnosis, bereavement etc.

Support should be made readily available when certain events acted as ‘warning signs’ that all was not well in an individual’s life. Several examples of when this might occur were given. The importance of such proactive responses was considered to be more important by individuals than organisational representatives.

“Missed appointments by vulnerable people being flagged by services (GP, DWP).”

“Where there has been a suicide attempt which is not considered a ‘serious’ attempt”

“When anti-depressants prescribed”

When an individual had previously reached crises point then support measures should be offered to avoid it happening again and this should be considered in discharge safety plans and through regular routine follow-ups.



Back to top