A multi-agency plan to tackle Highland’s worrying suicide trend was approved yesterday by Highland NHS board.
Community planning partners will now form part of a suicide prevention group which already involves NHS Highland, Police Scotland, Highland Council, Samaritans and numerous third sector agencies.
A proposal by Police Scotland to train at least 500 members of the multi-agency Highland Community Planning Partnership has resulted in twenty newly trained individuals ready to deliver suicide prevention courses, the board heard at its regular meeting in Inverness.
NHS Highland’s head of health improvement Cathy Steer said: “We are now in the process of developing an action plan which will raise awareness of the support services available, challenge the stigma associated with mental health and suicide and ensure multiagency partners are fully trained in suicide prevention.
“The work we have done to-date has helped us to identify specific areas of improvement. It is widely recognised that multi-agency working, widespread suicide prevention training and awareness raising are considered the bedrock of suicide prevention.”
Suicide is the leading cause of death in males aged 15-24 in Highland, although most suicides occur in middle age.
Highland, in common with Moray, has higher suicide rates than the Scottish average, and while Scottish figures have been reducing Highlands’ has been rising.
Latest figures show an average of 58 probable suicide deaths per year in NHS Highland area.
Those most at risk are people who had a problem with drinking alcohol, unpaid carers, individuals with nationality other than British, and farmers.
Living in remote areas is associated with a higher suicide risk. Around 60% of Highland residents live areas considered remote.
Anyone affected by these issues should call Samaritans on 116123 or Breathing Space on 08008385887 or arrange an appointment with their GP.