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WATCH: Police Scotland and the NHS support the launch of Highlands new suicide prevention strategy

By Annabelle Gauntlett

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Patrick Mullery from James Support Group
Patrick Mullery from James Support Group

After months of progress, Creating Hope in Highland have released the launch of their eight point suicide prevention action plan, including collaboration with the NHS and Police Scotland.

Highland’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan has been developed following an eight-month period of engagement with partners and stakeholders to review the priorities and organisation of the work being done by the Partnership’s Suicide Prevention Steering Group.

At today's Highland suicide prevention action plan launch event a range of industry professionals from the NHS, police and local charities spoke about the importance of the action plan initiated.

A new suicide prevention action plan has been released
A new suicide prevention action plan has been released

Rob Shepherd, divisional commander for Highlands and Islands, Police Scotland said: "This action plan for suicide prevention is an incredibly important step forward as tragically we see a significantly higher number of suicides in the Highlands area than in other parts of Scotland, averaging around 50 a year.

"This action plan means we can collaboratively work together with local authority, NHS, and third sector organisations.

"The focus on a collaborative, preventative, person centric response is to identify locations where people are more likely to commit suicide and working around those locations to make it more difficult and to provide the support people need when they need it."

NHS Highland’s director of public health, Dr Tim Allison: "There's been a lot of work that has been done already to develop the action plan and what we are talking about now is its implementation.

"We have various actions around providing support and information to people at risk, in addition to tacking issues such as stigma so that we can help people to be able to talk about mental health issues and suicide. This is to help it not be seen as a taboo subject."

An eight point action plan has been implemented in the support suicide prevention across the Highlands
An eight point action plan has been implemented in the support suicide prevention across the Highlands

Alongside the NHS and police representatives, local charities such as Mikeysline and James support group joined the event to shine a light on the local aspect of the new and established action plan.

Emily Stokes, chief executive from Mikeysline said: "The process of bringing this action plan together involved having a series of workshops which involved multi-agencies, people from across Highland and from different mental health organisations to pull together what they thought the priorities were from a variety of individuals who thought about what was needed to go into that action plan."

She continued: "The hope is that suicide figures in Highland will decrease, as whilst they are lower than what they were in 2019, we have had the cost of living crisis, Covid, Brexit and all of these things since then that have impacted on peoples mental health."

Patrick Mullery from James Support Group said: "Six years ago we lost our son to suicide and that's why we started this group up, because at that point there wasn't any help available for us.

"Every suicide affects around 135 people. Its not just the direct family and friends, its aunts, cousins, nephews, neighbours and more!

The full action plan is available to view at Highland Community Planning Partnerships website.

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