According to a recent report published by the Samaritans (March 2017), the suicide rate is three times higher among Scots living in areas of high deprivation. Risk factors for communities and individuals, include the closure and downsizing of businesses, people in manual, low-skilled employment, people facing unmanageable debt and those with poor housing conditions.
In Fife suicide prevention work is carried out through the multi-agency Choose Life Steering Group and funded by the Fife Health and Wellbeing Alliance. The Steering Group is chaired by the Choose Life Co-ordinator as part of her remit as Public Health Manager (Health Inequalities). The ongoing work is also supported by the Choose Life Development Officer.
Awareness raising is carried out through information stands in public places such as shopping centres and hospitals, freshers’ events at local universities and colleges, advertising in Fife buses and through distribution of materials to libraries, GP surgeries, hospitals, citizens advice bureax, and community centres.
Funding is also allocated to the Fife Self Harm Project operated by Penumbra and the Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy branches of the Samaritans and mental health training courses, part of the health improvement training programme, run by Health Promotion Fife.
The Choose Life national team are based in NHS Health Scotland. Their remit is to provide national leadership and delivery of key projects and tasks set out in the Suicide Prevention Strategy including:
- Workforce development, including support for raising awareness, developing skills and knowledge, quality assurance & production and distribution of training resources
- Provision of resources to raise awareness
- Development and review of national guidance
- Working with national organisations to influence and support a strategic approach to suicide prevention e.g. Scottish Prison Service, Police Scotland.
Jo-Anne Valentine, Public Health Manager (Health Inequalities) and Choose Life Co-ordinator