Mental Health Minister hears directly from those affected by suicide in Scotland

Section: People and NetworksThe ALLIANCEType: News Item Date Published: 20th February 2018
Front cover of the Health and Social Care Academy's report on suicide prevention

The views of people who have been directly affected by suicide will today be presented to the Minister for Mental Health, Maureen Watt MSP.

The views of over 100 people who have been directly affected by suicide will today be presented to the Minister for Mental Health, Maureen Watt MSP, as part of the development of the Scottish Government’s new Suicide Prevention Action Plan.

Since late last year, NHS Health Scotland, the Health and Social Care Academy (a programme of the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland) and Samaritans Scotland, supported by the Scottish Government, hosted a series of events across Scotland to hear directly from people who have been affected by suicide on what could be done differently.

A copy of the report, published today, will be given to Ms Watt by four participants in the events. Throughout the process, those involved expressed the devastation and tragedy of being bereaved by suicide, or supporting someone in crisis.

The report’s findings highlight that the care and support people receive is vital, however it is often lacking. It makes recommendations for where improvements could be made, from training for professionals to recognise suicide risk to ensuring timely, compassionate support is available for those in crisis. It also calls for government to engage with people affected by suicide on an ongoing basis.

Audrey Birt, Associate Director, Health and Social Care Academy, said: “People from across Scotland shared their deeply personal experiences of suicide with us and we are extremely grateful to them. They highlighted a mixed picture in terms of the support they received throughout their experiences and some examples of good practice which can be learnt from. We encourage the Scottish Government to listen to their views, create more opportunities for feedback and take further action to prevent suicides in the future.”

Shirley Windsor, Organisation Lead for Public Mental Health at NHS Health Scotland said: “Every death by suicide is a tragedy with life changing impact on families and communities and we must do everything we can to prevent it.  Hearing directly from families affected by suicide is an important part of this.  Alongside the evidence of what works, lived experience, like that which was gathered in these events, helps to provide a solid basis for action on suicide prevention in Scotland.”

The Scottish Government aims to publish a new Suicide Prevention Action Plan this Summer, following on from the previous Suicide Prevention Strategy 2013-2016.

In 2016, 728 people took their own lives in Scotland. Statistics show that there were 56 more deaths compared to 2015.*

Samaritans’ Executive Director for Scotland, James Jopling, said: “This report demonstrates that we need a renewed commitment and bold action for deaths by suicide in Scotland to further decline. We must be ambitious: suicide is preventable and 728 deaths is simply too much heartbreak for too many people in our communities across Scotland. With this action plan, it is more important than ever that we see Scotland return to being a world leader on suicide prevention.”

*National Records of Scotland (2017) Probable suicides. Available at: (this link will take you away from our website).

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