Scots affected by suicide to help prevention efforts

New ‘lived experience’ panel to help shape action plan as statistics highlight Scotland’s high suicide rate

Tuesday 10th September 2019

Scots who have been personally affected by suicide will play a key role in shaping action to prevent people taking their own lives.

The announcement of the ‘lived experience’ panel comes as a new report highlights how Scotland has the highest rate of suicide in the UK, with men aged 35-44 years old most at risk.

Public health minister Joe Fitzpatrick announced the creation of the new panel on World Suicide Prevention Day.

It will be made up those who have previously attempted suicide or who have experienced suicidal thoughts, as well as people who have lost a loved one to suicide. 

Their personal experiences will help support the Scottish Government’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group.

Mr FitzPatrick said no deaths by suicide should be regarded as “either acceptable or inevitable”.

He said: “This is why the new lived experience panel will have a pivotal role in helping to inform and shape our action plan.

“It is our goal to live in a country where suicide is preventable, where help and support is available to everyone contemplating suicide or to people who have lost a loved one to suicide.”

Billy Watson, chief executive of the Scottish Association for Mental Health, welcomed the move, saying services shaped by the people who use them would deliver the best results.

He added: “It’s a great opportunity for people who want to make a difference to thousands of people’s lives.

“The panel should be a true representation of our society, so I encourage those from all backgrounds to join us and help make a difference that we can all be proud of.”

Earlier this year NHS statistics showed the number of suicides in Scotland rose significantly in 2018 after years of decline.

Overall 784 people took their own life in Scotland in 2018, an increase of 14%.

The Samaritans briefing on suicide statistics also highlights the rate among the 15-24 age group is the highest in just over a decade, after increasing by more than 50% between 2017 and 2018.

There has also been a “significant increase” in suicide in the UK, for the first time since 2013, which appears to be driven by an increase in the male suicide rate.

In contrast suicide has continued to fall in both males and females in the Republic of Ireland.

Another major concern highlighted is an increase in self-harm among young people over the last 15 years, which is a strong risk factor for future suicide.