Suicide prevention action plan: every life matters

The new action plan has been designed to continue the work from the 2013-2016 suicide prevention strategy and the strong downward trend in suicide rates in Scotland.

Our Vision

We envisage a Scotland where suicide is preventable; where help and support is available to anyone contemplating suicide and to those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Suicide prevention is everyone’s business.

Our vision is supported by our key strategic aims of a Scotland where:

  • people at risk of suicide feel able to ask for help, and have access to skilled staff and well-coordinated support; 
  • people affected by suicide are not alone; 
  • suicide is no longer stigmatised; 
  • we provide better support to those bereaved by suicide; and 
  • through learning and improvement, we minimise the risk of suicide by delivering better services and building stronger, more connected communities.

This will be evidenced by a target to further reduce the rate of suicide by 20% by 2022 (from a 2017 baseline). In 2013, the World Health Organization adopted a global target for a 10% reduction by 2020. If the Scottish suicide rate decreased by the same amount in the next 5 years as it has over the last decade, then a 14% reduction would be anticipated. To achieve this, the active momentum of suicide prevention work has to continue. By setting a 20% target we commit to even greater additional ambition and at faster pace.

Leaders at a national, regional and local level have a key role to play in creating a culture that ensures that learning is taken from every death by suicide, in order to help prevent future suicides. Stakeholder collaboration will be at the heart of our approach.

Action 1. The Scottish Government will set up and fund a National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) by September 2018, reporting to Scottish Ministers – and also to COSLA on issues that sit within the competence of local government and integration authorities. This group will make recommendations on supporting the development and delivery of local prevention action plans backed by £3 million funding over the course of the current Parliament.

Action 2. The Scottish Government will fund the creation and implementation of refreshed mental health and suicide prevention training by May 2019. The NSPLG will support delivery across public and private sectors and, as a first step, will require that alongside the physical health training NHS staff receive, they will now receive mental health and suicide prevention training.

Action 3. The Scottish Government will work with the NSPLG and partners to encourage a coordinated approach to public awareness campaigns, which maximises impact.

Action 4. With the NSPLG, the Scottish Government will ensure that timely and effective support for those affected by suicide is available across Scotland by working to develop a Scottish Crisis Care Agreement.

Action 5. The NSPLG will use evidence on the effectiveness of differing models of crisis support to make recommendations to service providers and share best practice.

Action 6. The NSPLG will work with partners to develop and support the delivery of innovations in digital technology that improve suicide prevention.

Action 7. The NSPLG will identify and facilitate preventative actions targeted at risk groups.

Action 8. The NSPLG will ensure that all of the actions of the Suicide Prevention Action Plan consider the needs of children and young people.

Action 9. The Scottish Government will work closely with partners to ensure that data, evidence and guidance is used to maximise impact. Improvement methodology will support localities to better understand and minimise unwarranted variation in practice and outcomes.

Action 10. The Scottish Government will work with the NSPLG and partners to develop appropriate reviews into all deaths by suicide, and ensure that the lessons from reviews are shared with NSPLG and partners and acted on.



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