Yesterday, I met with the new Mental Health Minister, Clare Haughey MSP, on the day that she launched the Scottish Government’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan. I raised with her the issues of local services and people after a number of tragic suicides in our communities.
Clare is a former NHS nurse and after speaking with her about the plan, I am absolutely confident that real action will be taken – and not just talking shops. This is demonstrated by Clare’s ambitious target of reducing suicide by 20% by 2020.
A National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group will be established that will be comprised of service providers to make recommendations resulting in an integrated approach. This will be backed up with £3million of funding for local prevention action plans.
As well as offering training, raising awareness, focussing on vulnerable groups and young people, the Prevention Plan will work to strict deadlines so that suicide is addressed with the urgency it requires.
This issue is not a political football. Everyone at every level of Government has to play its part in preventing suicide. I am looking forward to the recommendations of the leadership group so that we may continue to make progress.