Government to provide more suicide support through action group led by former Penumbra chief

The Scottish Government has created a group to ensure people close to suicide receive the support they need.

In 2020, 805 people in Scotland lost their lives to suicide, according to official statistics.

The Suicidal Crisis Support Action Group has been created following a report and recommendations from the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG).

All 10 of the recommendations were accepted by the Scottish Government and the action group will be tasked with their implementation, led by former Penumbra chief executive, Nigel Henderson.

Included in the recommendations was a call to create a number of 24-hour services for people in crisis, both physical and virtual, and in different parts of the country – particularly in the wake of the pandemic.

Mental health minister, Kevin Stewart, admitted there was “more we can do” to help those in the most need.

“To deliver the scale of change set out in their recommendations, a dedicated Suicidal Crisis Support Action Group will be established to take forward and oversee the implementation of this work,” he said.

“The appointment of Mr Henderson (pictured) recognises his career in developing compassionate support for vulnerable people, including those at risk of suicide.

“The group will be accountable to ministers and continue to work in close partnership with NSPLG.

“We know there are some excellent examples of suicidal crisis support services across Scotland already, and we have an opportunity to learn from those to make sure this type of support is available right across Scotland.”

Mr Stewart added: “Every day, people in our communities, and those working in statutory and third sector services, are responding compassionately to people in crisis.

“However, there is more we can do. This report offers a real opportunity to transform how we engage and support our most vulnerable people at times of suicidal crisis.”

While the report did not call for a particular model of support, the NSPLG urged the Government to adopt a “time, space and compassion” approach to crisis management, which would be aimed at delivering services to those in need in an accessible way and with compassion.

Mr Henderson said: “Having been a member of the NSPLG and directly involved in this work, I believe that developing the time, space, compassion approach has the potential to make a positive difference to how we respond to people experiencing suicidal crisis.

“There is much to do, and I look forward to working with people, communities and organisations to take forward the recommendations.”

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