The group established to support the implementation of the Scottish Government’s suicide prevention action plan, ‘every life matters’, has produced its first annual report.
Among the eleven recommendations, the report makes is a call for COSLA (the convention of Scottish local authorities) to support the introduction of multiagency reviews of all deaths by suicide that take place in a community setting.
The national suicide prevention leadership group also suggest the Scottish Government should determine how best to put in place ‘multiagency reviews’ of all deaths by suicide which occur after being discharged from prison or police custody.
A similar suggestion is also made for reviews of all deaths by suicide of young people that happen after leaving the care system.
Identifying an appropriate national body to ensure effective scrutiny and dissemination of learning is also recommended.
The reports authors state that ‘timely and accessible data about suicides must improve’ before stating ‘barriers to sharing information should be tackled with vigour’ in order to improve local and national suicide prevention planning.
In 2018 NHS statistics revealed a significant rise had occurred in the numbers of deaths by suicide in Scotland, prompting the government to set up the group.
Around three times the number of men died than women, with 784 Scots dying by suicide in 2018, compared to 680 in 2017. A report from the Samaritans earlier this year highlighted how Scotland has the highest rate of suicide in the UK.
In May of this year a new mental health and suicide prevention initiative was also launched after a partnership was established between the government, the Scottish Professional Football League and the Scottish Football Association.
More recently, the Scottish Government announced people who had been personally affected by suicide would be invited to contribute to a lived experience panel that would help support their suicide prevention leadership group.
The importance of collaboration between public and third sector, national and local organisations in trying to reduce the suicide rate in Scotland is underlined by the chair of the national suicide prevention leadership group, Rose Fitzpatrick.
“We are clear that no single sector or organisation can deliver Every Life Matters alone,” she says.
“In raising public awareness about suicide we must all work to create a movement in which suicide is no longer stigmatised and suicide prevention is everyone’s business.
“We believe that we must continue to take a public health approach to suicide prevention in Scotland.
A joint statement from public health minister Joe FitzPatrick and COSLA health and social care spokesperson Peter Johnson has welcomed the group’s first report:
“Over the past decade, we, as a country, have made real progress in reducing deaths by suicide, but there is still more to do.
“We firmly believe that every life matters and no death by suicide is acceptable, nor inevitable.
“The Scottish Government and COSLA have given careful consideration to the contents of the report and recommendations made…and accept the recommendations and, further, both hope that these recommendations will be used to drive forward further work across key partners to prevent suicide.
“In response to the recommendations made in this report, the Scottish Government and COSLA will work together to facilitate engagement between key partners, both locally and nationally, to work with the NSPLG.”