Suicide Bereavement Support Service: evaluation report - year 2
This report covers Year 2 of the multi-year evaluation of the Suicide Bereavement Support Service (SBSS).
Background to the Suicide Bereavement Support Service (SBSS)
In 2021, the number of people who died from suicide in Scotland fell to its lowest level since 2017, with 753 probable suicides registered. This follows a year-on-year decrease from 2019 (833 registered) and 2020 (805 registered).
People who are bereaved by the suicide of a close friend or family member are estimated to be 65% more likely to attempt suicide than if the deceased had died by natural causes. The findings of a 2018 research study suggest that up to 135 people are affected to some degree by a death by suicide. Bereavement by suicide can have a severely detrimental effect on emotional and mental wellbeing and increases the risk of serious mental health issues. Many practical and emotional barriers prevent people who have been bereaved by suicide from accessing or seeking support until they reach a crisis point, if they seek it at all. These barriers include not knowing what support is available, where to look, or inability to access support due to trauma and distress.
The National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) was established in 2018 to support the implementation of the Scottish Government’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan ‘Every Life Matters’. This Action Plan contains ten actions for suicide prevention, including Action Four: ‘with the NSPLG, the Scottish Government will ensure that timely and effective support for those affected by suicide is available across Scotland by working to develop a Scottish Crisis Care Agreement’. In 2019, the NSPLG’s Annual Report included a recommendation that the Scottish Government fund a pilot to test a new model of suicide bereavement support.
In response to this recommendation, a pilot support service for families bereaved by suicide - the Suicide Bereavement Support Service (SBSS) - was funded by the Scottish Government. The model builds on relevant research and other evidence/good practice models. Following a competitive tendering exercise, Penumbra and Change Mental Health (formerly named Support in Mind Scotland), working in partnership, were commissioned to manage and deliver the pilot, with Change Mental Health delivering the service in NHS Highland and Penumbra in NHS Ayrshire and Arran.
The pilot SBSS launched in August 2021 and was scheduled to end in April 2023. An extension to March 2024 has recently been granted to enable further learning to be generated and captured, informing any future service rollout.
‘Creating Hope Together’, Scotland’s Suicide Prevention Strategy (2022-2032) was launched in late 2022. It continues the commitment in the previous suicide prevention strategy to ensure that people bereaved by suicide can access timely, effective and compassionate support. The strategy document explains:
Our aim is for any child, young person or adult who has thoughts of taking their own life, or are affected by suicide, to get the help they need and feel a sense of hope.
Purpose of the SBSS evaluation
The Scottish Government commissioned The Lines Between to deliver an independent evaluation to run alongside the SBSS pilot. The evaluation aims, objectives and research questions are described below.
The evaluation aims were to:
- Understand whether the pilot has been implemented as intended and the elements of service provision that are working well or less well.
- Assess whether the service provides flexible support and makes the required connections with specialist services.
- Review whether participants considered the service to be supportive and beneficial.
- Analyse available data and review and advise on using baseline and outcome measures for service monitoring and evaluation.
- Make recommendations for any service improvements that can be implemented during the pilot period.
- Provide recommendations for further national roll-out, considering questions of scale and sustainability.
The specific evaluation objectives were to:
- Review the operational delivery model, including referrals into and onwards from the support service and the use of centralised coordination and support in combination with local staff and services.
- Review and analyse routine monitoring data, and track service design, implementation and delivery.
- Explore peoples’ experiences and perceptions of the support they have received from the SBSS, including an assessment of the whole family-based approach.
- Assess any change in outcomes for people supported by the service (with reference to the draft logic model provided separately), considering the limited duration of the pilots.
- Understand the views of the staff in central and local functions on service delivery and sustainability and barriers and enablers to service delivery.
The Research Questions for the evaluation were:
- To what extent have the pilots delivered on their intended aim to provide a rapid response and liaison service for bereaved families?
- What contextual factors have influenced the implementation and delivery of the pilots?
- What has been the experience and short-term outcomes for those using the service?
- To what extent can the impact and benefits for families be evaluated, and are there improvements that can be made to routine monitoring data?
- What are the key lessons for further roll-out, scale-up, and service sustainability?
Latest News from
Advancing children’s rights in law08/12/2023 11:10:00
Amended UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Bill passed.
Helping Ukrainians into longer term housing07/12/2023 16:05:00
Steps to provide displaced people with accommodation stability.
Supporting Further and Higher Education and skills06/12/2023 14:15:00
Minister sets out next steps in reform of post-school funding arrangements.
Social Security in an independent Scotland06/12/2023 12:15:00
Plans to deliver a fairer system with more positive outcomes.
Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2022: Highlights from Scotland’s results06/12/2023 11:05:00
Scotland’s Chief Statistician yesterday published Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2022: Highlights from Scotland’s Results. PISA is an assessment of 15 year-olds around the world in maths, reading and science.
First Minister: “Scotland’s leadership paves the way for loss and damage funding”06/12/2023 10:05:00
£2 million loss and damage pledge unlocks over $650 million globally.