I recently attended a Choose Life Review Event at Stirling University. Choose Life is the national strategy and action plan to prevent suicide in Scotland.
I deliver ASIST Training (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) in my area, which contributes to the outcomes of this report. It was asked of all NHS Boards that they train 50% of frontline staff in suicide intervention skills and it was confirmed in March that all 14 Health Boards have succeeded in meeting the target and that 52% of targeted staff were trained in Scotland overall.
The report focuses on the training during 2007 – 2010 and the event was organised to bring together Health Board Leads, Choose Life Co-ordinators and Trainers. There are many examples of great work and the event was an opportunity to share in these good practices and also to examine how to move forward. While a lot of the focus of this work has been on frontline Health Board Staff, there has also been input for different services, voluntary organisations and members of the public. There was a lot of discussion around the materials being used and their suitability for engaging with young people for example. There are some new developments around resources which are being put together at the moment.
One concern I had was about the need to raise awareness of the courses and advertise that they are open to anyone in the community to encourage more people to attend. The purpose is to help build a safer community around the risk of suicide and to remove the stigma attached to suicide. The number of people taking their life by suicide in Scotland has fallen considerably in the last three years and while we cannot say that this is due to the training being delivered, it was felt overall that it had made a significant contribution to the outcome.