Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur used a debate on the Scottish Government’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan: Every Life Matters to highlight the particularly profound effect that suicide can have in smaller rural and island communities.
Mr McArthur also called on the Minister for Mental Health, Clare Haughey MSP, to ensure resources are available to help train those in the third sector working to support those at risk of suicide or suffering poor mental health. Accessing this training has presented problems for those in Orkney who do or want to carry out this vitally important work.
In response, the Minister acknowledged the particular challenges in more remote communities and agreed to look into the issue of training, though she hoped that this would be addressed through the government’s Action Plan.
Commenting after the debate, Mr McArthur said:
“Unfortunately, no community is immune from the tragedy of suicide. In smaller rural and island communities, however, the effect of someone taking their own life can be particularly profound and far-reaching.
“After years of decline in the number of suicides, the most recent figures saw a worrying increase. This should dispel any lingering complacency and encourage renewed efforts to ensure support is available to anyone contemplating suicide or experiencing mental –ill-health. It is vital too that the needs of those dealing with the loss of a loved one to suicide are addressed as party of the government’s new strategy.
“A key part of the strategy being debated today is making sure people at risk of suicide feel able to ask for help and have access to skilled staff and well-coordinated support. That is absolutely right, though in the past I know that the availability of training for those involved in this work in Orkney has not always been easy.
“I welcome the Minister’s willingness to acknowledge this and look to pick it up as part of the government’s Action Plan.
“In truth though, suicide prevention is not just the business of medical or care professionals or indeed third sector organisations. It requires everyone to play their part in helping reduce the stigma and provide support to those around them. Ultimately, suicide prevention is everyone’s business”.