Almost half of Dundonians who have died by suicide sought help from crisis services in the year leading up to their death, according to official figures.
The Scottish Suicide Information Database (SSID) report shows that 45.5% of the city’s 198 suicide victims between 2011 and 2018 contacted one or more unscheduled care services in the 12 months prior to taking their own lives.
NHS Scotland’s latest update to the SSID comes after it emerged tragic TV star Caroline Flack had been visited by an ambulance crew at her London home less than 24 hours before her death on Saturday.
Two-thirds of those who sought unscheduled help in Dundee did so by calling for an ambulance – and half attempted to get support from the NHS 24 telephone service.
Just over a quarter of those who sought help from Tayside’s out of hours service, which currently operates from Dundee’s Kings Cross Health and Community Centre.
Researchers who compiled the SSID noted that people who went on to take their own lives were six times more likely to have had at least one contact with the ambulance service in the year leading to their death.
The out of hours service can make referrals to NHS Tayside’s Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team (CRHTT) for cases of mental health crisis in Dundee.
However, staff working for the CRHTT have reported feeling undersupported as NHS Tayside focuses on inpatient services such as those offered at the Carseview Centre.
NHS Tayside is reviewing the SSID report, along with the final report published by the Independent Inquiry into Mental Health Services in Tayside two weeks ago.
Mike Winter, associate medical director for mental health, said reducing suicide attempts was “a priority”.
He added: “NHS Tayside and partner organisations have been reviewing our crisis care and home treatment centres and working to develop a Psychiatric Emergency Plan.
“It should however be recognised that a key aspect of suicide prevention is the opportunity for people in despair to talk about their problems, whether this is to a work colleague, a friend or family member, or to a volunteer from Samaritans.
“The Independent Inquiry report will guide our further work on suicide prevention and other improvements we wish to progress.”
Scottish Labour health spokesperson Monica Lennon said opportunities for health and care services to refer people for mental health treatment “cannot be allowed to be missed”.
She added: “Reducing mental health stigma needs our collective efforts, proper funding for health and social services, and joined up working so that there is no wrong door.”
Responding to the report, mental health minister Claire Haughey said £3 million of funding was supporting the Scottish Government’s existing Suicide Prevention Action Plan.
Ms Haughey noted: “This report represents a significant contribution to the growing evidence base around suicide in Scotland which will inform current and future policy and activity.”
Support is available by calling Samaritans free 24 hours a day on 116 123. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, you can email email@example.com.
The parents of two young men who committed suicide after perceived failures of care by medical staff in Tayside have said they hope the deaths of their sons will not be in vain.
Dale Thomson took his own life in 2015 after spending time in Dundee’s heavily-criticised Carseview Centre, used to house and treat patients with mental health problems.
Dale’s heartbroken mum Mandy McLaren, a vocal critic of the health board and a campaigner for better mental health provision in Dundee, claims NHS Tayside “killed her son” and said she will “never forgive” the board and staff for the treatment Dale received.
She sat down for an interview with Tele, joined by Phil Welsh and Lesley Nicoll, who are also from Dundee.
Their son Lee Welsh took his own life in August 2017 after what the couple say were failings by his GP.
In 2016, while saying she could not comment on specific cases, the then-health minister at Holyrood, Shona Robison, apologised for any care which fell below the expected standard.
Ms Robison, who was replaced in the role by Jeane Freeman in June 2018, said: “If a service or part of the health service doesn’t meet the standards it should meet, then of course I would apologise to their family — whether that’s in mental health services or any other service.
“Obviously I can’t comment on individual cases to any great extent, because I’m not party to the full clinical information.
“Most of the time, our services are of a very good quality – sometimes services do fall short of where they should be.”
Mandy, however, said at the time the apology was “too little, too late” and should have been made to her personally.
Phil received an apology from the NHS after what was described as a “callous” response to Lee taking his own life.
Phil said he and Lesley were “disgusted” with the Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership’s statement in the wake of Lee’s death.
They later received a personal apology from then-chief executive of NHS Tayside, Lesley McLay.
The website aims to share stories relating to mental health issues which can be shared with politicians, charities, and other people, in the hope that “funding and a fresh approach to the subject of mental health will finally be discussed and implemented”.
The family say that if they can prevent one family from enduring the same heartache they are currently suffering, Lee’s death will not have been in vain.
They are also campaigning for a crisis centre for people who can access acute mental health services without referral.
In the Trust and Respect report, it states that the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) has been working with various agencies and bodies in Tayside “to support the drive to increase access to preventative and short-term interventions”.
The leader of Dundee City Council has responded to an independent inquiry into mental health services in Tayside.
John Alexander has today posted a statement on Facebook, stating that the capacity of the services “needs to increase” and that there are “too many people spread too thinly”.
An inquiry to examine the accessibility, safety, quality and standards of care provided by all mental health services in the region was commissioned after concerns were raised in the Scottish Parliament.
Mr Alexander wrote: “Last week in a 136-page document, Dr David Strang set out the results and recommendations stemming from the independent inquiry into mental health services in Tayside.
“I spent the weekend pouring over the entirety of the document, considering it’s contents and thinking about what kind of service could be provided if those 51 recommendations are adopted.
“It’s vital that each word on those page is taken in. It was hard hitting, honest and to be frank, painted a deeply worrying picture of where things were.
“Mental health and it’s impact on too many people is an issue very close to my heart, even closer more recently but it’s also something that isn’t talked about enough – between family members and friends. I spent my Sunday morning with friends and one of the things we were talking about was the battles with mental health.
“I defy anyone to find someone that doesn’t have a family member, friend or someone that they work with who hasn’t suffered from issues related to mental health.
“We need to continue to remove any stigma associated with it and support those who need support. There is of course, a wide spectrum and the impacts can often be unseen, sometimes until it’s too late.
“There continues to be a significant number of people in crisis, at the end of their tether and struggling to manage daily life. What this report says very strongly and clearly is that people have been let down by services in Tayside. What it also says is that going forward, the services must change.
“The bottom line for me is that the capacity of those services needs to increase. There are too many people spread too thinly and too many silos that don’t allow for sustained collaboration.
“The Chief Executive of NHS Tayside has, to his credit, apologised for those failings and has said that his “…personal commitment to the people of Tayside is that I will work with them to address all the recommendations made by Dr Strang in his report.”
“I’ve already discussed the matter with officers and look forward to meeting with NHS colleagues to see what actions have already been taken forward and hear how they intent to address the 51 recommendations.
“This report has been long anticipated and whilst I think there was a general expectation that there were issues, the fact that it has done such a thorough analysis and 1,500 interviews during that process should provide the evidence base required to make some big and necessary changes.”
A young woman pulled from the River Tay on Monday has died in hospital.
The woman, who has not been named, is understood to have been in the Tay at the south side of the road bridge for around 15 minutes before she was rescued.
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Around 11.35am on Monday, 10 February officers responded to a report of concern for a woman in the River Tay near Dundee.
“A 32-year-old woman was recovered from the water and taken to Ninewells Hospital where she later died.
“There are no apparent suspicious circumstances and a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”
A statement from Broughty Ferry lifeboat crew said: “Broughty Ferry RNLI crews responded with both lifeboats to a report of person in river near to Tay Road Bridge.
“The call came in via coastguard at 11.37am. By 12pm the first lifeboat had arrived on scene to find the casualty had been removed from the water on to a local work boat.
“The casualty was then transferred to the all-weather lifeboat where crews provided emergency care during rapid transfer to lifeboat station, where the casualty was passed into the care of waiting ambulance crews.”
The spokesman said the conditions for the crew were difficult during the rescue.
He added: “This was a difficult rescue and the crew are all understandably subdued.”
The statement continued: “If you are worried about something or know somebody who needs help but don’t know how to approach things then call Breathing Space on 0800 838587.”
A senior politician has said no stone should be left unturned if the city is to address the deepening mental health crisis.
Labour leader on Dundee City Council Kevin Keenan said that the independent inquiry into mental health services in NHS Tayside published this week, which set out 50 recommendations, raised very concerning issues.
Mr Keenan said: “Everything I have read so far shows that there needs to be some level of spending from Dundee City Council to help achieve the recommendations laid out by the report.
“I have written to the council’s chief executive David Martin to ask what that level of financial commitment will be.
Mr Keenan added: “I have also asked him to address the issues and have further asked whether there is any opportunity to receive government funding given that the NHS in Tayside has effectively let down individuals and those in need of care.”
Mr Keenan said that the council had a crucial role to play as one of the partners involved in caring for people with mental health issues in Dundee.
He said: “Through our council housing services and our social work department we regularly come into contact with people with mental health issues.
“I want to know how we can provide better support, particularity following on the concerns raised by the independent inquiry report.
“There is little doubt that there is a link in Dundee between mental health and drug taking issues and the previous Fair Commission held in the city highlighted this and committed to providing appropriate care.
Mr Keenan added: “It also concerns me that many children in Dundee suffer as a result of mental health and drug issues.
“We should be looking at how we can best support these children. We have one of the highest number of Looked After Children and many sibling groups would have been split – something which I understand this report has been very critical of.
“I would hope that we could have some level of case review undertaken fairly quickly – if we are getting it wrong for any child then we must address this promptly. ”
A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “The chief executive will respond to Bailie Keenan in due course.”
NICOLA STURGEON was pressed to intervene and save failing mental health services at a Scottish health board today after the publication of a damning report earlier this week.
At First Minister’s Questions, the SNP leader was pushed to commit to a swathe of measures at NHS Tayside.
The independent inquiry into mental health services in the region found a culture of “fear and blame,” with more than 50 suggestions made about how to make improvements.
Scotland’s Labour leader Richard Leonard asked Ms Sturgeon whether her government would step in at the health board and put in place “special measures” to ensure implementation of the recommendations.
He said: “NHS Tayside has a history of evading scrutiny, deflecting criticism and resisting change.
“They have repeatedly ignored recommendations from Healthcare Improvement Scotland and the Mental Welfare Commission.
“Will you today instruct your Cabinet Secretary to re-escalate NHS Tayside’s mental health services so that your government steps in to drive the transformation of mental health services in Tayside?
“First Minister, will you do the right thing?”
Ms Sturgeon said she offered her apologies to all families who had been let down by the NHS.
She added: “The Scottish government will continue to take the action that is already under way and we will consider all suggestions.
“We will continue to monitor the progress of NHS Tayside through the Tayside Oversight Group, which is a vital part of the picture here.
“As I said, the Mental Health Minister will keep Parliament updated and we have proactively asked David Strang to review this after a year and to provide an update into the progress that has been made.”
The success of a new approach to supporting mental health issues in Dundee has been hailed as a national success.
Making Recovery Real, which has been trialed in Dundee, brings people who have battled mental health challenges together with professionals, to decide the best support to offer in the city.
Participants from Making Recovery Real in Dundee traveled to Edinburgh to speak at a Scottish Recovery Network about how the scheme works.
They premiered a short film showing how people with experience of mental health issues could give their perspective on what helped them and go on to offer support to others.
It is hoped that the project will be adapted by communities across Scotland looking for a new approach to developing and accessing mental health support.
One of the service users, Rona Foy, said working with people who had similar experiences helped her see how the group could help her and she is now supporting others.
“I saw other people flourish that were on the group and they started to become more confident and wanted to help other people.
“It has given me lots of different opportunities and it has just been great.
“I am going to be facilitating a peer to peer course myself after doing on which is exciting and I just think it’s so worthwhile.”
The participants worked with professionals from Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership, NHS Tayside, Dundee City Council and Dundee Volunteer and Voluntary Action (DVVA), among others.
Ruth Brown, team leader of mental health engagement and involvement at DVVA and chairwoman of the Making Recovery Real partners group said: “Our work with Scottish Recovery Network has been transformational for individuals who live with mental health challenges, for mental health organisations, and for our strategic planning and delivery mechanisms in the city.
“It enabled us to work more effectively together, to make better decisions, to keep lived experience at the centre of all we do, to maintain our focus on recovery and to invest in growing peer support.”