In August 2018, the Scottish Government published its suicide prevention action plan, “Every Life Matters”, which sets out 10 measures to continue the strong decline in the country’s rate of death by suicide. It has a target to reduce the rate by 20 per cent by 2022 from a 2017 baseline.
The approach to suicide prevention work in West Lothian is currently under review. Once the review is complete, a new strategy and action plan will be developed. Action 1 of the suicide prevention action plan commits the national suicide leadership group to make recommendations on supporting the development and delivery of local prevention action plans and is backed by £3 million of funding over the course of this parliamentary session.
The Neil’s Hugs Foundation is a charity in my constituency that supports families and friends who are affected by suicide. It says that our top priorities must be to ensure that no one who has attempted suicide leaves hospital without immediate follow-up support and to reduce waiting times for child and adolescent mental health services. Given that NHS Lothian is a poorer-performing health board in that regard, how will the minister ensure that we do more earlier to prevent poor mental health and suicide?
I am aware of the charity that Angela Constance spoke about. Donna Paterson-Harvie, who is the chief executive of the Neil’s Hugs Foundation, has been involved in the lived experience events hosted by the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland for the national suicide prevention leadership group. I thank her for her participation in that, and I thank the others with lived experience who participated.
The member will be aware that last year the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities announced a joint task force on children and young people’s mental health. The task force is examining our whole approach to mental health services. Specialist clinical services are not the whole answer and other services in young people’s lives, including education, social work and the third sector, are vital to provide practical and emotional support.