Cole-Hamilton: Expiry of suicide prevention strategy is a tragedy

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton has today criticised the Scottish Government after it was revealed that a new Suicide Prevention Strategy won’t be published until late 2017 or early 2018, a year after the old strategy has expired.

Responding to a parliamentary question from Mr Cole-Hamilton, the Scottish Government confirmed that even though the Suicide Prevention Strategy expired in December 2016, consultation on a replacement strategy won’t begin until the spring of this year. This follows the delay in the publication of the new Mental Health Strategy which is yet to be published despite the old strategy expiring in December 2015.

Commenting Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

“Any suicide is a complete tragedy and has a devastating impact on families and local communities left behind. In 2015, 672 Scottish people died as a result of suicide. That’s why we need a comprehensive strategy for suicide prevention that provides vulnerable people and their families with the support they need. A replacement strategy that may not be published until a year after the old one has expired is not good enough.

“This morning we heard from the Scottish Children’s Service Coalition that mental health support for children in schools is inadequate and across the country we are still seeing children having to wait years to receive the mental health care they need.

“The Mental Health Strategy was allowed to expire in 2015 and now we have a Suicide Prevention Strategy that has also expired. The Scottish Government say they are serious about mental health care but their actions reveal the opposite. We all knew that these strategies were set to expire so why have the Scottish Government allowed such a gap to appear?”

“Ministers must deliver a step change in mental health treatment to ensure that vulnerable people get the support that they so desperately need.”

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