Mental Health Foundation calls for new national body to drive suicide prevention in Scotland

Existing structures are no longer fit for purpose. The lack of support for bereaved families is an injustice.

We are today calling for a radical shake up of Scotland’s suicide prevention work, describing existing arrangements as "no longer fit for purpose".

In our submission to the Scottish government's suicide prevention consultation, we have called for the creation of a new national body to instil new drive and leadership in national and local suicide prevention work.

We argue that while suicide rates have decreased over the past decade, local authorities have reduced spending on suicide prevention and that the Scottish government no longer provides ministerial guidance on prioritising funding for such work. 

The charity has also called for a dedicated support service for immediate family and friends who have been bereaved by suicide, who at present receive close to no support from services. 

Mental Health Foundation Scotland said:

"On average two people die by suicide in Scotland every day – we believe that's two too many. While deaths by suicide are decreasing in Scotland we still have the highest rate in the UK after Northern Ireland.

"For the first time in six years there's been an increase in suicides in Scotland. Yet national and local government has become complacent on suicide prevention, with several local authorities reducing their funding and national leadership on this agenda diminishing.

"Scotland needs a dedicated national body to drive forward suicide prevention work. It should be a partnership of trusted and expert organisations that can provide national leadership and support local work across the country. It’s clear that the current fragmented, under-resourced system is no longer fit for purpose.

"We need a strategy that actively targets vulnerable groups in the most deprived areas, as they are two and a half times more likely to die by suicide than people living in the most affluent communities.  

"No caring society or government should tolerate the suffering that leads a person to take their own life. Each and every suicide is a tragedy which can be devastating and life-changing for those they leave behind. 

"It's time for a dedicated support service for family and friends bereaved by suicide. Victims of suicide often struggle to cope with the trauma and bereavement of losing a loved one and become at greater risk of suicide themselves. 

"It's an injustice that families bereaved by suicide and first responders receive very little help from services. The Scottish Government should consider the introduction of link workers for those affected and make trauma-informed support available to all who need it."