New suicide strategy urgently needed

The Scottish Government should never have allowed its suicide prevention strategy to expire after new statistics revealed that there were 728 suicides last year - an 8% increase on 2015.

The Scottish Government’s suicide prevention strategy ran from 2013 to December 2016. To date, no draft of a new strategy has been published. The final strategy may not be published until 2018.

Any suicide is a profound tragedy and has a devastating impact on those left behind. An 8% increase in the number of suicides over the last year is exactly why we need a comprehensive new prevention strategy that provides vulnerable people and their friends and families with the support they need.

Replacing the strategy a year after the old one has expired is shambolic. The SNP Government let the mental health strategy rot for 15 months before replacing it. Now it has been without a new suicide prevention strategy for seven months, with no word on when its replacement will be published. Ministers knew it was set to expire so why was this gap been allowed to occur?

The Scottish Government say they are serious about mental health care but patients are still waiting over a year for the treatment they desperately need. That is why the Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to press for the step change in mental health. A new suicide strategy accompanied by the swift roll out of new mental health practitioners in A&E, GP surgeries, the police and prisons. The cost of inaction is devastating.

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