A movement to make Scotland the most supportive nation in the world has kicked off on World Suicide Prevention Day today (10 September).
Informed by thousands of people across Scotland and co-produced with people of lived experience, United to Prevent Suicide, a new campaign launched by Scotland’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG), aims to build confidence to talk about suicide and invites people to pledge their support to the national movement for change.
It comes as a new YouGov poll commissioned by the NSPLG revealed that nearly a third (31%) of people in Scotland wouldn’t know how to help if someone they knew was having suicidal thoughts, and over a third (36%) have never spoken about suicide with anyone.
While people in Scotland are most confident talking to their friends about suicide (51%), over a third of (39%) would not feel confident talking about suicide with their family, and when it comes to the workplace, over half of workers (54%) would not feel confident broaching the subject with colleagues.
With sobering figures revealing that in Scotland on average two people die every day by suicide* and at any one time around 1 in 20 people are contemplating suicide**, the campaign comes at a time when the impact of the pandemic on mental health remains high on the national agenda.
As the easing of lockdown brings new challenges, the Chair of Scotland’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group, Rose Fitzpatrick hopes the national effort will encourage people to open up a dialogue about suicide and know where help is available, or how to help someone struggling.
Ms Fitzpatrick commented:
“Many of us have been affected by suicide in some way, so it has never been more important to be able to talk about suicide. Giving each one of us the confidence to ask or tell a member of our family, a friend or colleague about suicide really will make a difference. I am excited to launch United to Prevent Suicide today because it is a way to bring people together so that we have the confidence to talk about suicide and to save lives.”
Minister for Mental Health, Clare Haughey said:
“Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy. It’s important that we all feel able to listen and talk about suicide more openly and that is why I am encouraging everyone to join the movement for change – United to Prevent Suicide. By being open and honest we will break down barriers and help to save lives.”
Councillor Stuart Currie, CoSLA Health and Social Care Spokesperson added:
“The activities which take place across Scotland’s Council areas aim to reduce the rates of suicide and the launch of United to Prevent Suicide forms a crucial part of this important programme of work. Suicide can happen to anyone and by listening and talking about suicide, we can all do something to help. I encourage supporters to join the movement and sign up to the United to Prevent Suicide pledge.”
Supporters are invited to join the movement by first signing the pledge at www.unitedtopreventsuicide.org.uk The movement aims to help improve knowledge and skills in suicide prevention through a United to Prevent Suicide pack, which includes learning resources on listening and talking about suicide.
The campaign is supported by Liam Hayman, who, after struggling with gender dysphoria and social problems throughout his teenage years, attempted suicide on two occasions. Now in recovery and a student at university, Liam is using his own experience to support the campaign. He said:
“I was fortunate enough to survive my suicide attempt and with support I began a slow recovery process, but for too many people in Scotland, the ending is loss of life. Scotland needs a new suicide prevention initiative and that is what we are, as a huge collaborative effort, building.
“As we develop the new suicide prevention initiative it is vital that the input of those with lived experience of suicide, and its consequences, are included. I applied to be a member of the NSPLG lived experience panel so that I can use my experience to make sure that what is being implemented is as relevant as possible.”
Scotland’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) was set up to help drive implementation of the Scottish Government’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan (2018).
Together we can save lives, so let’s talk suicide. Join the conversation. @unitedtopreventsuicide.org.uk