10th September 2019
By Billy Watson, Chief Executive, SAMH
EVERY day in Scotland, an average of two people die by suicide. And last year there was a significant increase in the number of suicides in this country, following a number of years in which we saw a downward trend.
It is devastating that 784 people died by suicide last year in Scotland. Each one of those deaths left families bereft and searching for answers.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, when people across the world will be talking about suicide. It’s great to have these conversations, but it’s really important that we don’t allow this to just be a day – as a nation, we need to redouble our efforts to ensure that no one who needs help is left feeling that suicide is the only answer.
At SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health), we are playing our part and today announce that we are making our biggest ever charitable contribution in this area, thanks to our generous supporters. Building on our long history of supporting people and families affected by suicide, our new strategy will place SAMH at the heart of suicide prevention work in Scotland. It is wide-ranging and ambitious, and we hope to see lasting impact as a result.
It includes plans to launch a toolkit of resources for every school, workplace and community affected by suicide. We will also be producing a refreshed suite of information resources of suicide, informed by those who have been affected.
We will consider at-risk groups, including men, who are three times more likely to die by suicide than women. This will include bringing together organisations working on men’s mental health to collaborate and share good practice.
Training will be crucial, with plans to increase our resource to allow us to deliver a suite of suicide intervention training across Scotland. In particular, we will build on our work providing a 14-day therapeutic service for people in distress.
We will also create an exemplar local suicide prevention programme through increased knowledge, understanding and support, tailored to the local environment.
The voices of the people affected by suicide must be central. Announced today, we will coordinate a new Lived Experience Panel, working with Scottish Government and our charity partners Penumbra and Support in Mind, which will create a new forum for people who have lost someone or have themselves considered suicide to advise on national policy. We’re delighted to be leading this work and to be working with friends across our sector to make it happen.
In all of this work, we’re proud to be part of the national effort to deliver Every Life Matters, the Scottish Government’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan, working in collaboration with partners across sectors.
SAMH is fully committed to doing all we can to reduce suicide, and while Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity to highlight this, it’s the work that we will be doing every day of the year that we believe will have the greatest, most lasting impact.
SAMH’s new strategy will place the charity at the heart of suicide prevention work in Scotland and will include:
- Launch a toolkit for every school, workplace and community affected by suicide
- Increase our resource to deliver a suite of suicide intervention training across Scotland.
- Develop our work on a 14 day therapeutic service for people in distress.
- Create an exemplar local suicide prevention programme through increased knowledge, understanding and support tailored to the local environment.
- Informed by people who have been affected by suicide, produce a refreshed suite of information resources.
- Bring together organisations working on men’s mental health to collaborate and share good practice.
*Originally ran in The Herald 10/9/19