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Suicide prevention action plan: engagement paper

Published: 8 Mar 2018
Part of:
Health and social care

This paper invites public comment on proposals for a future suicide prevention action plan.

16 page PDF


16 page PDF


Suicide prevention action plan: engagement paper
3 Maximising the impact of national and local suicide prevention activity

16 page PDF


3 Maximising the impact of national and local suicide prevention activity

When it began in 2002, the Choose Life programme was ground-breaking and, with its novel approach to national and local collaboration, is likely to have been one of several strong contributors – along with other initiatives including the See Me programme, the Breathing Space telephone and web service, and the Scottish Recovery Network - to the significant downward trend in the suicide rate in Scotland over the last several years.

Strong local Choose Life activity continues to take place in some parts of the country, such as the award winning work in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire [26] . As national host for Choose Life (now known as the National Programme for Suicide Prevention), NHS Health Scotland has produced some of the best available suicide prevention materials, for example, the Read Between the Lines campaign [27] , the National guide on suicide prevention in rural areas [28] and Guidance on action to reduce suicides at locations of concern in Scotland [29] . As well as funding NHS Health Scotland's work on suicide prevention, the Scottish Government provides funding to NHS24 for the Breathing Space confidential phone line for anyone over 16 in Scotland feeling low, anxious or depressed [30] , and funding for NHS24's NHS Living Life psychological therapy resource [31] . The Scottish Government also provides funding support to Childline to offer confidential advice and information on a range of issues, including suicide prevention.

There is a vibrant array of Third Sector organisations, some operating nationally, others locally, offering support and information to people who are suicidal or who are bereaved through suicide. National organisations include Samaritans, Scottish Association for Mental Health ( SAMH), Penumbra, Mental Health Foundation and local organisations include the Joshua Nolan Foundation, PETAL (People Experiencing Trauma and Loss) and Renfrewshire Association for Mental Health ( RAMH).

The sports industry is emerging as a strong contributor in promoting mental health and preventing suicide. A number of football clubs are forming local partnerships to save lives. Motherwell FC has pioneered this type of activity [32] . Another good example of local innovative collaborations that reach out to "at risk" groups is the "Gamechanger" Public Social Partnership between NHS Lothian and Hibernian Football Club [33] .

Innovative work has been developed to encourage people using public transport to open up and talk about issues which may be worrying them. For example, Breathing Space staff have joined partners Abellio ScotRail, the Railway Mission and Choose Life for "Conversation Cafes" on trains [34] .

In addition, the rail industry is working in partnership with Samaritans and the British Transport Police on the Small Talk Saves Lives bystander campaign, launched in November 2017 [35] . The first campaign of its type on the railway, it encourages the general public to support those who may be in emotional crisis around them on the railway network.

The changing national and local policy and strategic landscapes present new challenges requiring a fresh approach to suicide prevention activity. As stated in our introduction, every life matters and everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention: we want to ensure suicide prevention activity is carried out in a consistent and coherent way across Scotland using the best available evidence. We see opportunities to harness the strengths of a diverse range of health and non-health, public and private employers to reinvigorate this work.

Action 3

We will work with partners, including NHS Health Scotland, to establish a Suicide Prevention Confederation of public, private and voluntary organisations to devise an agreed work plan of shared activities each year that maximises impact and ensures consistently good practice in suicide prevention both nationally and locally.


3a) Do you agree that we should establish a Suicide Prevention Confederation? (Tick one only)

Don't know

3b) Please explain your answer.

3c) Where do you think local leadership for suicide prevention is best located? (Tick one only)

Local Authorities
Health & Social Care Partnerships
Community Planning Partnerships
Third Sector
Other arrangement – please specify ____________________________
Don't know

3d) Please explain your answer.

3e) Please provide any additional comments or suggestions about maximising the impact of national and/or local suicide prevention activity.