A local councillor is promising to talk, and talk some more about suicide as part of a prevention policy.
Councillor Duncan MacPherson says “loving people” and making sure they are listened to, is one of the ways in which he will be asking the council to move forward with a suicide prevention policy.
The Highlands has the second highest suicide rates in Scotland, with 73 people taking their own life in 2018, Orkney has the highest rate per head of population with five people taking their own life in 2018.
Mr MacPherson says the policy will have a knock-on effect on both the health and well being of the area – but will also be financially prudent to invest in the mental welfare of Highland residents.
The Inverness councillor continued: “Everyone in the Highlands and Islands will have a terrible story to tell about suicide.
“In fact within the council offices we have lost a colleague recently ourselves, and it is so sad. We see someone one day and we think they look alright – but we don’t know what is going on in their minds.
“We are hoping to start to look at a holistic way to support people and to talk about what is wrong. Yes, it can be difficult to be alongside people when they are suicidal, and it can be hard to listen to people – but unless we talk, and talk some more – and love people then nothing will change.”
Mr MacPherson said he was influenced by a project in Detroit called Zero Suicides that had greatly reduced deaths in the city.
He said: “You know what they did? They are asked people as part of everyday life how they were feeling. And it worked, they just talked. When help was needed, they put it in place.
Pointing out that the cost of suicides can run into the millions, he says it makes good sense to invest in programmes that support people.
He continued: “We will bring forward a motion at Highland Council that seeks to tackle suicide, self harm and attempted suicide face on.
“The rates of suicide in the Highlands are horrendous – and the numbers are not getting any better.
“It is time that we worked together to make a difference.”