Suicide prevention action plan: public engagement analysis

Analysis of responses to our engagement paper on draft Suicide Prevention Action Plan. We were inviting comments between 8 March and 30 April 2018.

1. Introduction

1.1 This report presents an analysis of written responses to the Scottish Government's public engagement on themes and draft actions for possible inclusion in the Suicide Prevention Action Plan[1], which ran from 8 March 2018 until 30 April 2018.

Engagement background

1.2 The aim of this engagement exercise was to gather feedback on a range of draft actions under consideration for inclusion in the Scottish Government's new Suicide Prevention Action Plan. These actions were developed through consultation with a range of stakeholders, including individuals with lived experience, and fall under four broad themes: (1) improving the use of evidence, data and guidance on suicide prevention; (2) modernising the content and accessibility of training; (3) maximising the impact of national and local suicide prevention activity; and (4) developing the use of social media and online resources.

1.3 The engagement paper consisted of six closed, and eleven open ended questions (see Appendix 1). The questions were designed to gather respondents' views on the development of a "Knowledge Into Action" group; the development of new mental health and suicide prevention training materials in Scotland; whether suicide prevention training should be mandatory for specific professional groups; the establishment of a suicide prevention Confederation; and where local leadership for suicide prevention is best located. Respondents were also provided with space to provide any additional comments or suggestions for maximising the impact of national and/ or local suicide prevention activity.

Profile of Respondents

1.4 The written engagement received 290 responses. The majority (n=273) of responses were received through the Scottish Government's online Consultation Hub. The remaining 17 responses were received by post or email.

1.5 Respondents were asked to identify whether they were responding as an individual or on behalf of a group or organisation. Those responding on behalf of an organisation were also asked what type of organisation (using a checklist). A breakdown of the number of responses received by respondent type is set out in Table 1 below and a full list of organisations can be found in Appendix 2.

Table 1: Type and Number of Respondents

Type of Respondent Number % of all respondents
Individuals 196 68%
Organisations 94 32%
Third Sector 34 12%
Public Sector 31 11%
Multi-Agency Group 16 6%
Academic 4 1%
Other* 9 3%
Total 290

Notes: Percentages do not sum to 100% due to rounding. *Others included private sector, social enterprises, trade unions and organisations representing professionals.

1.6 Individual respondents were members of the public submitting their personal response to the engagement. Some of them had experience of suicide in their personal lives or professionally. A small number of respondents listed the organisation they were a part of, but selected to be considered as an individual rather than an organisation.

1.7 Among the organisations, the "third sector" consisted mainly of organisations registered as charities. Those categorised as "public sector" included NHS organisations, local authorities and other public bodies. "Multi-agency groups" were joint submissions and partnerships, often consisting of a number of different bodies from the public, private and third sectors. "Academic" respondents consisted of those responding from academia, including universities and student associations. Those categorised as "Other" included the private sector, social enterprises, trade unions and professional associations.

Analysis and Reporting

1.8 This report presents a question-by-question analysis of responses, relating to the four actions asked about in the engagement and finishing with a chapter on additional comments. It presents both quantitative findings (numbers responding a certain way) as well as qualitative (detailed information about written responses). It also looks at differences in responses by individuals, organisations and types of organisation.

1.9 As with any public engagement exercise, those responding generally have a particular interest in the subject area and their views are not necessarily representative of broader public opinion. Any figures quoted cannot be generalised to the wider population. The main focus in the analysis is therefore to understand the range of views expressed and the reasons for these.

1.10 The analysis and report writing was undertaken in-house by a temporary member of staff with an analytical background. The report was quality assured by two Scottish Government researchers.

Quantitative Analysis

1.11 The engagement questionnaire contained a number of multiple choice questions (see Appendix 1). For example, these asked whether people agreed (Yes/No/Don't Know), about their level of agreement (ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree) or which choice of options they agreed with. The multiple choice questions were analysed by looking at the number of responses to each option, which are reported in tables of results. In some of the tables percentages do not add up to 100%, as they are rounded to the nearest percent.

1.12 A small number (n=17) of respondents did not make their submission on the engagement questionnaire, but submitted their comments in a statement-style format. When these responses contained a clear answer to one of the Yes/No/Don't Know questions, then this was recorded.

Qualitative Analysis

1.13 The open-ended questions were analysed and categorised into broad themes. The aim was to identify the most common points made, but also to identify the range of views expressed in relation to each question or group of questions, together with areas of agreement and disagreement in the views of different types of respondent.

Comments on Analysis

1.14 In addition to the points above, it is also important to note the following points about the analysis:

  • There was not always a straightforward relationship between respondents' answer to the multiple choice questions and their accompanying comments. The high number of respondents answering "Yes" to these questions may have been because they agreed with the idea in principle, but expanded on their answer and/or voiced any concerns in the follow up "explain your answer" question.
  • Some respondents commented that they found it difficult to give a clear answer to some questions, either because the question was unclear, was too prescriptive or was perceived to be leading (e.g. "do you agree").
  • Respondents did not always answer every question. This means that a different base number was used to calculate the percentage of respondents who answered each question in a particular way.
  • Comments varied considerably in their length and complexity. A small number of respondents made extensive and detailed comments, which included reports and published research papers. This report's scope was to present a summary analysis, focusing on the most frequently raised themes and considering the range of views expressed.
  • Some of the responses – especially from individuals – covered detailed personal anecdotes and experiences. This included information about their own suicidal ideation, supporting others after a suicide attempt and bereavement following suicide. Due attention was paid to all responses (including issues regarding side-effects of medication and chronic pain), even if the detail is not captured in this report.


Email: Katie Godfrey

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