6. Additional Comments
6.1 The final question in the engagement paper provided the opportunity to make additional comments about any of the issues raised in the engagement exercise. A total of 138 respondents provided additional comments. These were often brief and frequently reinforced points made in response to other questions. Other submissions were longer, with the inclusion of additional reports or materials in a small number of instances. Some people commented on the engagement itself. The paragraphs below summarise the issues that were raised in the additional comments section that are relevant to suicide prevention and have not been covered elsewhere in the report:
The Aftermath of Suicide
6.2 Some respondents commented on the need for more support for people, including family/significant others, following suicide or a suicide attempt. They explained how the loss of someone through suicide or caring for someone who has recently attempted suicide results in feelings of grief and pain that need to be considered. There were calls for better access to counselling, talking therapies and support services to tackle this. There was also a call to acknowledge that those who have had a loved one take their own life are at a higher risk of suicide themselves, and therefore support is vital.
Factors Contributing to Suicide
6.3 Some also took the opportunity to highlight specific examples of factors that may contribute to suicidal thoughts. These included socio-economic inequalities, people experiencing changes to their benefits, wage stagnation, financial problems, housing policies, rural transport, lack of access to education, unsatisfactory social service interventions, abuse and being in custody. Self-harm was also mentioned as an evidenced major risk factor, and there were calls for greater awareness, understanding and support services for people who self-harm.
6.4 Some felt that there should be a wider network of healthcare workers available to identify and care for individuals who are experiencing mental health crises and suicide ideation. There were calls to ensure that healthcare workers are adequately resourced with the skillset to support suicide prevention activities. One respondent suggested having crisis teams within each health board area, whereby people experiencing a mental health crisis can be visited by a healthcare worker who can provide short term crisis support.
6.5 There were multiple mentions of instances in the responses where people have felt that medical professionals (including GPs) have been over-stretched, unsympathetic or unable to provide access to mental health support in a timely manner. There were repeated concerns for more understanding around mental healthmedicines and the effects of beginning treatment and coming off medication.
6.6 Some respondents commented specifically on the suite of training currently being offered. There were requests not to give up the operating license for the LivingWorks courses and to continue the Choose Life programme, which were described as well-respected internationally and evidenced to have had a positive impact. Some people highlighted that a large number of individuals have been trained in ASIST, safeTALK and Mental Health First Aid across Scotland and we need to make use of this strong network. Some people also suggested that investment would be best spent tailoring and updating these programmes, rather than fully replacing them.
6.7 Some responses commented that there may be value in promoting self-care and well-being on a national scale, as part of a suicide prevention agenda. This could include the government increasing awareness of mindfulness and well-being.
6.8 Respondents also provided feedback on the engagement process itself. Some stated that they were pleased to have the opportunity to provide their view and have these taken into consideration before the action plan is finalised. There was also positive feedback regarding the pre-engagement events that were held and calls for collaborative meetings like this to continue.
6.9 Others provided more critical feedback. In terms of process, some felt that the written engagement could have been better publicised and that timescales for responding were too short. Some perceived that decisions had already been made. In relation to content, some respondents felt that the paper lacked detail, not enough themes were covered, there were no specific outcomes and that some of the questions were vague. Another critique was that the engagement paper did not have set timescales or mention funding/costs of delivery.
Email: Katie Godfrey