Training to help prevent suicides could be provided in every workplace across Scotland under new plans announced by the Scottish Government.
A new draft suicide prevention action plan has been unveiled, with a pledge to develop a “new, world-leading, comprehensive mental health and suicide prevention training programme”.
Mental health minister Maureen Watt said this should then be provided in workplaces across the country in the same way as first aid training.
There were a total of 728 suicides across Scotland in 2016.
The new action plan has been brought in more than a year after the previous suicide prevention strategy, which covered the period 2013 to 2016.
The proposals, which are being consulted on at the moment, include commissioning NHS Health Scotland to “lead on the development of a new, world-leading, comprehensive mental health and suicide prevention training programme to replace and modernise the current suite of training programmes”.
The plan added: “We will work to create a culture where mental health and suicide prevention training is universally delivered with the same commitment as physical health emergency training across a wide range of services and organisations. “
As well as improved suicide prevention training, it sets out to make greater use of social media, with NHS24 developing a number of initiatives in this area.
Launching the new draft plan in Edinburgh, Ms Watt said: “Every life matters and everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention.
“While the suicide rate in Scotland has fallen over the past decade, I want us to go further to prevent deaths.
“As part of our proposals, we aim to produce a world-leading suicide prevention training programme for employers.
“We need to create a culture across Scotland where workplaces deliver mental health and suicide prevention training with the same commitment as physical health emergency training such as CPR and first aid.”
Shirley Windsor, lead for public mental health at NHS Health Scotland, stressed the need to develop “more responsive services”.
She added: “The training programme, raising skills and building confidence in everyone, not just professionals, to spot and respond to people in distress, has huge potential to help prevent suicide in Scotland.”
Samaritans executive director James Jopling said: “Last year 728 people died by suicide in Scotland and it remains the leading cause of death for men under 50 across the UK. As such, the impact that suicide has across our communities is huge.
“We urge people across Scotland to get involved and help shape the Scottish Government’s suicide prevention plans.”