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Publication - Publication

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
4 Developing the use of social media and online resources

16 page PDF


4 Developing the use of social media and online resources

If used positively, the internet and technology provide powerful opportunities to influence suicide prevention both locally and nationally [36] . There are opportunities to (a) provide online support to people who may be at risk of suicide and are "surfing the net" – including using social media; (b) raise awareness of safe use of the internet and of sources of support for people who may be feeling suicidal; and c) support individuals' ability to manage themselves and develop resilience.

At a local level, an impressive output from the award-winning Choose Life work in the north east of Scotland is the establishment of a strong suicide prevention online presence with the potential to reach people who would not otherwise connect with health professionals [37] . The online work consists of three elements: 1) Google AdWords to ensure that when an online search is carried out on keywords or phrases associated with suicide, the user is directed to appropriate support services; 2) a user-friendly Suicide Prevention App containing guidance material and support services that can be accessed anonymously, and a safety plan, which can be completed alone; and 3) Facebook adverts aired at key times in the year on suicide prevention.

At a national level, NHS24 is developing a number of online initiatives for people "surfing the net". The intention of these developments is to provide high–quality information and support that is easily accessible, better tailored to individuals' needs and geographically linked to local services. One initiative, for example, is to update NHS Inform [38] with revamped content from "Moodjuice" [39] thus providing a comprehensive online resource to help people work through issues at their own pace and in their own time, and to access professional support if required. An additional feature will be the use of moderated forums that promote peer to peer support, backed-up by a mental health trained professional. Alongside its telephone support, NHS24's Breathing Space service is developing a "web chat" facility that will increase its potential to support a wider range of people.

Action 4

We want to maximise the positive influence of social media and its potential for key messaging, and will work with NHS24, NHS Health Scotland and other interested partners to develop a strong online suicide prevention presence across Scotland that caters for all ages.


4a) Do you agree that we should develop an online suicide prevention presence across Scotland? (Tick one only)

Don't know

4b) Please explain your answer.

4c) Please provide any additional comments or suggestions about developing social media and/or online resources for suicide prevention.

Next Steps

Our formal engagement process ends on 30 April 2018. Views expressed through this process will then be analysed to inform the development of the final Scottish Government Suicide Prevention Action Plan, due for publication in summer 2018. Our expectation is that the new Suicide Prevention Action Plan will build on the collaborative approach underpinning the Suicide Prevention Strategy (2013-16) [40] , reflect updated public priorities and, crucially, draw on evidence to continue the downward trend in suicides in Scotland.


5) Please use this space to provide any additional comments that you have about any of the issues raised in this engagement paper.