Scotland’s Council Leaders meet in COSLA tomorrow (Friday) for their monthly Leaders meeting to discuss and debate the key issues facing both local government and their communities.
Taking its place in a busy agenda for Scotland’s leading Councillors will be the issue of suicide prevention.
This follows the launch of the new suicide prevention and mental health training resources earlier this week, developed by NHS Health Scotland and NHS Education for Scotland funded by the Scottish Government.
Scottish Local Government will be one of the first sectors along with professional football to see these resources introduced.
Speaking ahead of the May Leaders meeting, COSLA Health and Social Care Spokesperson Councillor Stuart Currie said: “It is good to see Local Government in at the start of this vitally important initiative.
“Suicide prevention is everyone’s business, and all of us involved in Scottish Local Government have a key role in preventing, recognising and responding to distress.
“Many of the Local Government workforce have day to day contact with members of the public, they are the ones delivering the services on the ground every day – be that in the care sector, education, housing, sports and leisure or environment services like refuse collectors. Our staff can play a key role in preventing suicide, through recognising changes in behaviour and responding to distress.
“As well as that, anyone can experience suicidal thoughts and distress and it is important that as valued employees they know it is ok to talk about it themselves, and ask for support, for themselves, their family or their friends or people that they come across within their roles.
“That is why Scotland’s Councils are committed to rolling out these new training resources to every one of our 250,000 strong workforce. This online resource provides an additional way for the workforce to learn more about suicide prevention.
“The animations within the online resource will be screened across all 32 local authorities and will be one element of the work we do to build a culture of understanding distress and preventing suicide across Scotland.”
George Dodds, Member of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group and Director at NHS Health Scotland, said: “On average two people die by suicide every day in Scotland. That’s tragic and preventable. We also know one in three people who take their own life have had no contact with any specialist services before they die. We need to change that dramatically.
“That’s why NHS Education for Scotland and NHS Health Scotland have worked together to develop these resources, to help the Scottish workforce improve mental health and prevent suicide. The online animations aim to raise awareness of the issues that affect people and that can lead those in distress to sometimes think about taking their own life. They’re also designed to increase the confidence of healthcare staff to respond compassionately and effectively to support anyone in that situation.
“We hope the animations will also help staff from other sectors – such as local government – to have the confidence to hold compassionate conversations with those they meet, so that they can get help to those most vulnerable at the time it’s needed.”
James Jopling, Executive Director for Scotland at Samaritans said: “We are really pleased that Council Leaders across all local authorities in Scotland are giving attention to the topic of suicide prevention.
“Suicide is the leading cause of death of men under 50 in the UK. Addressing the challenge of reducing the risk and numbers of deaths by suicide requires efforts from many different parts of Local Government and health services. So strong leadership from the very top can make a significant impact. Every death from suicide is a tragedy and we need every part of our society to come together to help address this.”