View Full Version : Choose Life

01-Nov-11, 14:35
Minister hears Highlands' contribution to initiative
CHOOSE LIFE in Highland last week had the opportunity to demonstrate to Michael Matheson, Minister for Public Health, how it is contributing to efforts to reduce Scotland’s suicide rate at a national networking event in Edinburgh.
Scotland has seen rates of suicide fall consistently since 2008. Yet around two people a day are taking their own lives, particularly young men, meaning that suicide prevention work is a long-term responsibility for the Scottish Government.
At the event for over 100 delegates, ranging from community planners to practitioners in suicide prevention, Mr Matheson heard how Choose Life in Highland has been fostering valuable partnerships with The Highland Council, NHS Highland, Northern Constabulary, HMP Inverness and a wide range of voluntary sector organisations to directly target suicide prevention messages towards those at greatest risk.
Keith Walker, Choose Life Co-ordinator for Highland, said: “We recently worked with the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival, the Belladrum Festival and Inverness Prison to send the message out to people that if you’re feeling suicidal, you should talk about it. Using drama, film and comedy is a powerful way to engage with this serious message and we were particularly pleased with the way this enabled us to get our message across to new audiences and in a very different way.”
“Suicide prevention work in Highland is an integral part of the health improvement work undertaken by us and our partners, with key strategic activities led by The Highland Council and NHS Highland.”
Alana Atkinson, national Choose Life Programme Manager at NHS Health Scotland, said: “Collaboration is required between many organisations and different individuals, nationally and locally, for us to reach those people in greatest need of help. This event was an ideal opportunity for Choose Life in Highland to engage with the minister and show how it is enabling local authorities, the health service, police, prison service, Samaritans and other community partners to come together and make suicide prevention everyone’s business.”
The national event was also an opportunity to celebrate the availability and uptake of suicide prevention training. Locally, Choose Life has been delivering a programme of Suicide Prevention training for 7 years, and in the last year over 750 people have been trained in suicide prevention skills, including over 50% of key frontline health staff in mental health services, primary care and Accident and Emergency.
Michael Matheson said: “We have seen a downward trend in the rate of suicide in Scotland and must do all we can to ensure prevention services continue to provide people with the best possible support. I welcome the vital contribution made by Choose Life to assisting people and raising awareness of these important issues.”
Nine years since its launch, Choose Life has now entered into its penultimate year. An expert review of Choose Life within the last year has provided clear recommendations for the future direction of the strategy. One of these is to continue to focus on increasing the uptake of training among key groups such as GPs, A&E staff and substance misuse workers. At the event, delegates also had the opportunity to hear from Dr Kevin McConville, a GP from Dundee, about how this can be best achieved.