Lived experience of suicide

A key feature of implementing the Scottish Government’s ‘Every Life Matters’ Suicide Prevention Action Plan (2018) was the emphasis placed on the involvement of people affected by suicide.

SAMH, working with partners, hosted a National Suicide Prevention Lived Experience Panel (LEP) of up to 14 people to help place the voices of people affected by suicide at the forefront of the delivery of this strategy. At the end of three years, SAMH commissioned The Lines Between, a social research agency, to produce an independent evaluation report.

This is a summary of the key findings that SAMH takes from the report, which you can access in full using the download link at the bottom of this page.

Lived experience of suicide
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Impact of the LEP

  • Raised the profile of the lived experience voice.
  • Played an integral role in delivering the action plan. A unique contribution that shaped each of the actions and engendered confidence in the direction of the work.
  • Brought benefits for individual members, including increased confidence, feeling more comfortable talking about suicide, and better equipped to support others.

“The fact that it's been referenced by the World Health Organisation as a successful model, and how other people are looking to roll it out...I think we all feel it's been a very positive thing. And hopefully, people have learned enough that, whether it's in suicide prevention or whether it's in any other areas, lived experience would be beneficial." - Panel member

Building on success

The evaluation praised a number of the LEP's processes, including:

  • The process for recruiting panel members was reported to be robust.
  • The training provided to the LEP was well received and helped them feel equipped for their role.
  • Exploring safeguarding and boundaries was part of the induction and produced agreed principles and a volunteer handbook. The approach continued to evolve in response to learning. The LEP Coordinator’s support was essential to the functioning of the panel.
  • Panel members controlled the extent of their involvement. LEP members appreciated the breadth of opportunities for involvement. It gave them scope to shape their involvement.
  • There was a formal process to engage with the LEP, which was not as effective or collaborative as it could have been in the early stages and had to be further developed and improved over time.
  • Delivery leads and other stakeholders had positive experiences but brought varying levels of confidence and experience in lived experience engagement.


Future of the panel

Panel members and stakeholders strongly supported a continuation of the LEP because it adds robustness, contributes ideas that positively influence the work, and in some cases, helps things progress more quickly.

However, the report made recommendations for further strengthening the LEP:

  • Involve more people with lived experience to increase diversity and bring fresh perspectives.
  • Maintain involvement from some existing LEP members through the transition to a new panel to transfer knowledge and experience.
  • The full and resource-intensive recruitment process should be used to retain robustness.
  • Co-production of the induction process and training should be coupled with a process for identifying the ongoing training needs of LEP members.
  • A maximum term for LEP members should be set.
  • The potential of unsuccessful applicants to join the LEP should be recognised with other involvement options being explored. 
  • Lived experience involvement should be seen in every action and included at the earliest opportunity.  This should be underpinned by clear involvement plans shared with and shaped by the LEP.
  • Identify actions that benefit from broader, whole panel input and those where engagement with smaller groups would be more effective.
  • Financially compensating LEP members should be considered.
  • The LEP Coordinator role should be separate from the role of overseeing and providing the necessary safeguarding and support for panel members.
  • Existing local groups and engagement infrastructure should be identified, and appropriate connections made.

Evaluation of the NSPLG’s Lived Experience Panel

Download the full independent evaluation of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group’s Lived Experience Panel