Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today warned that the Scottish Government’s proposal to publish a new suicide prevention plan in September 2022 will leave a “dangerous blank”, as the current strategy will expire at the end of 2021.
Every Life Matters, Scotland's Suicide Prevention Action Plan was published in 2018, 586 days late. The plan was scheduled to run until 2021, which will leave another gap with almost a year in between.
Statistics published by Public Health Scotland show there were 833 probable suicides registered in Scotland in 2019 - an increase from 784 in 2018.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
“The government knew that the current plan would expire this year, but once again have not thought about what comes next. It is unacceptable that we will be waiting up to a year before a replacement plan is in place. The government should have started working on a follow up long before now, to ensure a seamless transition.
“There was already a mental health crisis in Scotland, and the pandemic only made that worse. Issues like suicide prevention shouldn’t be this low on the government’s list of priorities. We need coordinated and targeted action to get people the support they need.
“Alongside a new plan to immediately follow the current one, we need a serious expansion of the mental health workforce to end the waiting times scandal, fast access to talking therapies and new 24/7 crisis care.
“A gap between suicide prevention plans invites tragedy. There is no excuse for such complacency.”