Suicide Prevention Week

The past 18 months have been especially difficult and they have placed considerable stress on many. Suicide is preventable. We can all do our bit to look out for warning signs in those close to us. Even if those signs come and go, ask your friend, family member or colleague how they’re doing. Just talking about how we feel can lift a load. But there are several services that you or someone you know can turn to for long term, professional help.

Samaritans – 116 123 (24hr). Calls are free & confidential. For people experiencing distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide.

Breathing Space – 0800 83 85 87 (6pm – 2am daily and 24hr weekends). A free and confidential phone-line service for any individual, who is experiencing low mood or depression.

For help and support for your mental health, speak to your GP or if out of hours, call NHS 24 on 111.

Lanarkshire Suicide Prevention App – search for SP Lanarkshire with your App store provider.

ChildLine – 0800 1111 (24hr). A free 24-hour helpline for children and young people in the UK.

HopeLine UK – 0800 24 20 24. A free service for childen & young people under the age of 35 who are experiencing thoughts of suicide & for anyone concerned that a young person could be thinking about suicide.

Elament – for more focused supports and services, click here.

Lanarkshire Mind Matters – run by NHS Lanarkshire Adult Psychological Services. It aims to link you to mental health information, advice and help, wherever you live in Lanarkshire. Click here for more info.

There are more services available via my Health & Wellbeing Support Directory here.


Meeting with Mental Health Minister

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.


Mental Health minister agrees to meeting with Wishaw MP in wake of recent deaths

FULL STORY: Mental Health minister agrees to meeting with Wishaw MP in wake of recent deaths

I’ll be meeting the new Scottish Minister for Mental Health, Clare Haughey, in the coming weeks to discuss the issue of mental health – especially amongst young people. Local communities have been rocked by recent suicides. I’m determined to feed in to the improvement of services.

I’ll be contacting local groups to ask for what they want raised, but I’d also like to hear from the wider community. Please let me know how you would improve local mental health services.



Yesterday, my office held suicide alertness training – safeTALK – for elected representatives in the area, their staff, and local organisations.

It is a vitally important and thoroughly worthwhile course that will stand everyone who attended in good stead in the future. And trainers Lynne and David ensured that discussions were candid and engaging, despite the often difficult subject of the training.

The first step in preventing loss of life to suicide is to talk about it, openly and honestly, and to be alert to the signs that someone may be considering ending their life. As a society, we can do a lot more to prevent suicide, and training courses like safeTALK can be incredibly valuable parts of that prevention.

I would urge any individual or organisation in our local community who is interested in undergoing such training to visit for further information.


HOC: Suicide Awareness Training

Our communities have been rocked by the tragic loss of far too many young men to suicide in recent weeks. Suicide is currently the leading cause of death in men under the age of 50 across the United Kingdom, and the raising of mental health awareness and suicide prevention is vitally important. My constituency office is currently organising training in this regard for elected representatives, their staff, and local organisations.

Earlier this week, the crass and completely unacceptable shout of “suicide” from Ian Liddell-Grainger, Conservative MP for Bridgwater and Somerset, in the direction of SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford, highlights just how much work is still to be done in terms of suicide awareness, even at the heart of Government.

Yesterday, I raised this matter with the Leader of the House, and urged Ms Leadsom to take steps towards providing suicide awareness training for all Members.