SAMH comment on Suicide Prevention Action Plan

9th August 2018

SAMH welcomes Scotland’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan published by the Scottish Government today which shows ambition and commitment to making suicide prevention a national priority. We are pleased to see that the plan includes a new National Leadership Group, which will be backed by an additional £3 million over the next 3 years. We have consistently called for action to ensure funding for suicide prevention is issued in a more transparent and effective manner.

We believe that it is important to be ambitious in our aims for suicide prevention and, throughout the consultation process, called on Government to set a new target to reduce suicides, to build on the 17% reduction achieved during the lifespan of the previous strategy.  When someone dies by suicide, it has an impact like no other, so we cannot become complacent.  We commend the Scottish Government for committing to a national target to further reduce suicides by 20% by 2022.  

The commitment to provide training in mental health for school teachers is also welcomed, but needs to go further to ensure all school staff are trained. As part of our Going to Be campaign we asked the Scottish Government to introduce a nationally consistent training programme for all school staff across Scotland’s secondary schools by 2020. 

In our consultation response to the action plan, we called for a Scottish Crisis Care Agreement, to support people in crisis. We welcome this inclusion in the final plan and that a common set of standards and referral pathways will be developed. It is important that people bereaved by suicide can receive support at any time, not just when in crisis. 

Intervention based training plays a key role in suicide prevention.  It is really important that we don’t just train people to be aware, but to equip them with the skills and confidence to support people when they need help.  Programmes like Applied Suicide Intervention Training (ASIST) has evidenced that this works.  Any new training must provide people with the skills to actively intervene when someone is at risk of suicide. 

At SAMH we look forward to playing a leading role in implementing this new action plan; making sure local areas have resources to be able to operate this national approach in individual communities.  

Samaritans is a 24-hour helpline offering emotional support for anyone feeling down, distressed or struggling to cope. Call them on 116 123 or email: