Health bosses in NHS Highland have been urged to back a campaign aimed at dramatically reducing the number of suicides.
Liberal Democrat MP Alan Reid has called on NHS Highland to commit to an ambition for ‘zero suicides’ in their care. The region is second only to Shetland for the percentage of suicide deaths and both are above the Scottish average.
It follows Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s call for an overhaul of how the health service treats mental health.
Scottish Liberal Democrats have urged the Scottish Government to follow the new ambition in order to dramatically reduce suicides across Scotland.
The most recent Scottish Suicide Information Database report for Scotland found that there were 3,059 deaths from probable suicide between January 2009 and December 2012. Almost three quarters of probable suicide deaths were male.
Today Alan Reid said NHS Highland should think about how it could provide better provide care for people suffering depression and other serious illnesses.
He said: “Latest figures show 218 people took their own lives in the Highland region with 3,059 suicides in Scotland between 2009-2012. More than three quarters of these deaths were men.
“This is not inevitable. These tragic deaths can be prevented. The majority of people who are feeling suicidal do not want to die. We have to do more to make sure people have the support they need so they do not get to the point where they believe taking their own life is their only option.
“That’s why I hope NHS Highland commits to the new ambition of zero suicides in our area. We have to work together to remove the stigma around talking about suicide, so people are not afraid to ask for help.”
Nick Clegg said: “Suicide is, and always has been, a massive taboo in our society. People are genuinely scared to talk about it, never mind intervene when they believe a loved one is at risk.
“This isn’t about blame. It is about doing more in every area of our society to ensure that people don’t get to that point where they believe taking their own life is their only option.”
2. Today’s conference at the King’s Fund, in London, is part of a wider campaign by Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats to bring treatment for mental health problems out of the shadows and in line with physical health. In Government, and with responsibility for the NHS in England, we have helped build a strong foundation there for the improvement of mental health services, including:
● Setting up and leading the first ever Mental Health Taskforce with senior ministers from across the coalition
● Securing a £400 million investment over the course of this parliament to improve access to talking therapies
● £150m investment for treatment and support for children and young adults with eating disorders
● Introducing ground-breaking waiting time and access standards to put a limit on the length of time people have to wait for treatment, backed up by more than £120 million investment
● £54m for the Children and Young People’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme
● £7m investment to fund 50 new inpatient beds for children and young people
3. Some NHS Trusts in England - Liverpool, the South West and East England have already created programmes to eliminate suicide by 2017/18 and steps could include:
· Keeping in touch with patients who move back home after being on a ward
· Having a personal safety plan in place so patients, family and friends know what to do and where to go for help if they need it
· Bringing safety systems in line with treatment for physical health - for example, designing a process for any member of staff to follow if a patient is at high risk of suicide. This would tell staff what to do, who to call, where to send the patient, and how to follow it up
· Joining all services up so that patients who are at risk will not fall through the cracks - linking GP, carers and mental health services.