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The Mental Health Foundation has today welcomed the Scottish government's announcement of £3 million for suicide prevention – but has warned that the full plan, which is due to be published later this month, must include a number of crucial commitments.
We have spent the past nine months campaigning for a radical redesign in suicide prevention – including the creation of a new national body to provide leadership and oversight of suicide prevention work in light of patchy and fragmented work across Scotland's local authorities. It is also calling for a new dedicated service to support families bereaved by suicide and mandatory training to be rolled out for key workers such as GPs and social security staff.
Toni Giugliano, Policy Manager at the Foundation, said:
"We're delighted that the Scottish Government has backed our call for a new national body to drive forward suicide prevention and specifically the creation of an innovation fund. We've made it clear to the Minister that we need a body with teeth and resources, and the £3 million announced today is a step in the right direction – but we look forward to seeing more detail on the body's remit and functions.
"Scotland doesn't need a talking shop on suicide prevention – it needs a new body, fully resourced and staffed, that can provide strategic direction to local delivery groups, co-ordinate national campaigns, roll-out training to key staff across sectors and commission a full independent evaluation of the strategy.
"We'd also like to reiterate our call for a new support service for bereaved families and friends.
"It's an injustice that families and first responders receive very little help from services – and it's a scandal that they should be put on a waiting list for support as they are a vulnerable group at risk of suicide. The Scottish government should consider the introduction of link workers offering immediate trauma-informed support.
"We made it clear during our evidence session in Parliament that in addition to local and national structures, we must take a public health approach to suicide prevention. We need an education system that can help build resilience, a welfare system that doesn't penalise but support people in times of need, a justice system that focuses on prevention and rehabilitation and workplaces that look after the wellbeing of their employees."
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A-Z Topic: Suicidal thoughts
If you’re feeling suicidal, you’re not alone: one in five of us think about suicide in our lifetimes. Remember that these feelings won’t last. There is help available to keep you safe now and to help with the problems that may be causing your suicidal feelings.
There are things we can all do in situations where we are worried about someone who we think may be at risk of suicide. Talking can really make a difference.