Scotland’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) is launching a youth advisory group – supported by the University of Stirling – to inform and improve policy from the perspective of those with lived experience.
Established by the Scottish Government and COSLA, the NSPLG brings together people with lived experience of suicide alongside academic, third sector professional and statutory partners to support the implementation of Scotland’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan: Every life matters.
Stephanie Craig, Member of the NSPLG Lived Experience Panel, said, “The news of the NSPLG launching a youth advisory group is incredible. Lived experience provides valuable knowledge and insights from people who have direct experience in these sensitive areas.
“Lived experience helps drive and lead positive change. It provides space for valuable and powerful conversations and it raises awareness and influences policy. We saw this with the Lived Experience Panel, a group of people incredibly brave people who came together to do this, and our work has been recognized by the World Health Organization.
“Children and young people are understood, not listened to and often ignored by society because of their age. They are often underrepresented and, due to their age, are not considered to have enough life experience to comment on important topics that affect their lives. Children and young people have a unique and powerful perspective due to their age and experiences and we need to listen to them now more than ever. Children and young people are our future, they have a voice and must be heard.
The national charity Children in Scotland is partnering with the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals Research Unit (NMAHP-RU) at the University of Stirling to recruit, house and manage the new group youth advisory. They will bring together a panel of 12 young people aged 16-25 who will meet regularly for an initial period of 11 months to come together and share views to inform future policy.
The NMAHP-RU – funded by the Chief Scientist Office for Scotland – has focused on mental health and suicide research for over 20 years. The launch of the new advisory group follows a 2019 review of suicide prevention policy by the University of Stirling and the NMAHP-RU which found the policy fell short of the needs of children and young people. A growing demand for services is that policy reflects the experience and needs of children and young people.
Dr. Lynne Gilmour, researcher at NMAHP-RU, is co-principal investigator of the group. She said: “We are extremely proud to be working with Children in Scotland to host and run the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group Youth Advisory Group. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among children and we are committed to ensuring that the voices of young people are heard through the Suicide Prevention Action Plan.
“Listening to young people is vitally important to ensure that the goals of the plan are meaningful and useful for children and young people who may need help and support for suicidal thoughts and/or behaviors.
The group also benefits from the supervision and management of Professor Margaret Maxwell and Professor Helen Cheyne, both NMAHP-RU in Stirling, with extensive experience in conducting and managing suicide and mental health research. more generally.
The launch of the Youth Advisory Group follows the successful establishment of an adult “Lived Experience Committee” set up in 2018-2019 to inform the development of the NSPLG Action Plan.
Recognized by the World Health Organization as an example of best practice, the NSPLG hopes the Youth Advisory Group will be the next credible step in listening, understanding and responding to those with lived experience, as well as a crucial step to help address rising suicide rates among young people in Scotland.
Fiona Drouet, NSPLG member and patron of children and young people, who founded the charity EmilyTest after the death of her daughter, said: “I am delighted, after many months of hard work and commitment, that we We are now witnessing the launch of the youth advisory group. As we know, statistics show a worrying trend of increasing suicide among children and young people. We need to listen to them to fully understand the many complex challenges they face and counseling young people will provide a safe and meaningful platform where they can help shape the future of suicide prevention in Scotland. “Nothing for them, without them”, is a phrase I often quote. I am privileged to play a part in this groundbreaking work.”
The appointment of the Youth Advisory Group aligns with the NSPLG’s overarching approach of bringing together academic rigor, lived experience and professional practice to understand the causes of suicide and develop the most effective strategies to support its prevention. This work is underpinned by the belief that no suicide should ever be considered inevitable.
Children in Scotland brings extensive experience of working with young people to ensure their views are heard and they have the opportunity to participate meaningfully in decision-making.
Amy Woodhouse, Head of Policy, Projects and Engagement at Children in Scotland, said: “It is a privilege to support the development of this new and important advisory group of young people. The group exemplifies our shared commitment to putting the views and experiences of children and young people at the heart of decision-making. It is essential that young people’s perspectives on suicide prevention are heard and that they have the opportunity to use their lived experience to improve future policy development in this area. We really look forward to working with the members of the group and with the University of Stirling and the Leadership Group, which will make this an enriching and positive experience for everyone.
Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, said: “I am delighted to see the launch of the Youth Advisory Group on Suicide Prevention.
“The Scottish Government sees the incredible value of listening directly to people with lived experience of mental health issues, to help shape and design our policies and approaches.
“I encourage young people to get involved with this unique group, which I am sure will help identify what is working well and what we need to do to go further, to reduce deaths by suicide in Scotland. .”
A COSLA spokesperson said: “COSLA is delighted to see the Youth Advisory Group for the launch of the NSPLG. We believe he will play a central role in ensuring that we listen to and respond to the needs of young people and their families in the national approach to suicide prevention. We look forward to working with Children in Scotland and the University of Stirling and making Scotland a great place for children to grow up.