Chapter 2: Foreword

In the last two years, life in Scotland has changed in ways we couldn't have imagined. For many it's been tough, and it continues to be so. We know this because we hear the concerns of people who contact us. Across Scotland, through our one thousand volunteers, Samaritans has continued to be here, day and night, providing a safe space to listen for anyone who is struggling.

Our listening service has been at the core of Samaritans for nearly 70 years, and we will continue to be a trusted space for those who need a non-judgemental ear. The hope we offer through human connection saves lives. But as Samaritans Scotland moves into this new strategy period, we also need to do far more to reduce the levels of distress, anxiety, isolation and hopelessness that lead people to contact us in the first place.

In Scotland, right now, there are opportunities to make real and lasting change to ensure fewer lives are lost to suicide. Civil society has shown a heartening commitment to addressing the impact of coronavirus on people's wellbeing – with public campaigns, open conversations, and significant new research and investment. We continue to play our part in the pandemic response alongside our partners, offering emotional support, community outreach, online resources, training, research insights, policy solutions and awareness campaigns.

Now though, economic uncertainty and world events have added fresh worries for many. Structural inequities, child and adult poverty, addiction, poor physical health, isolation, and barriers to accessing support are just some of the factors fuelling poor mental wellbeing. These factors are not being felt equally across Scottish society; but this is not new.

People living in Scotland's most deprived communities are more than three times more likely to take their own life than those in the wealthiest. Middle-aged men remain at greatest risk of death by suicide. Young women in Scotland repeatedly reported the highest rates of suicidal thoughts through the pandemic. Some communities are so overlooked that we don't have the data to even know what risk looks like.

The reasons people feel suicidal, or take their own life, are complex. Finding the right solutions will require many voices to be heard. For the next two years, under this strategic delivery plan in Scotland, this is the work: building a collective voice for change.

  • We will work collaboratively – with those who have experience of suicide, self-harm and marginalisation, supporters, volunteers and staff – to influence structural change, both locally and nationally.
  • We will pool our expertise with that held by partners in other sectors to build our understanding of risk factors for suicide and campaign for change so that fewer people reach the point of distress or despair.
  • We will build our volunteering offer, becoming more reflective of the communities we serve, diversifying access and sustaining our listening service for all those who need us.
  • We will do more to promote our full range of services with workplaces, schools, communities, the media and civic leaders to support positive intervention and reductions in suicide across Scotland.
  • But we can only do all of this with sustainable resources – so we will work to build the income and capacity available to us in Scotland to ensure we can remain a force for good across the country.
Amanda Millar Samaritans 1

Our goal is to ensure fewer lives are lost to suicide – by always being there to listen, by bringing evidence and an experienced voice to suicide prevention, by challenging inequity, and by working hand in hand with people every step of the way.

Amanda Millar

It is possible to build a compassionate and caring society in Scotland where no one feels they need to face their struggles alone. We are hopeful. We look forward to listening, and to speaking up, with you.

Amanda Millar, Scotland Trustee and Committee Chair

About this delivery plan

The Samaritans Scotland Strategic Delivery Plan 2022–24 should be read alongside the Samaritans 2022–27 strategy which set outs the direction of travel for our organisation across all five jurisdictions in which we operate: England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. The two-year delivery objectives set out in this document are specific to Scotland and will be delivered alongside wider UK and Republic of Ireland developments to meet our aim, that fewer people die by suicide.

We will provide a review of our progress against these Scotland-specific objectives each year and will publish an updated Scottish delivery plan in Spring 2024, focused on the final three years of the Samaritans strategy.

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