If you can read between the lines, you can save lives. That’s the message NHS Borders, Scottish Borders Council (SBC) and other local partners are sending out to people in the Scottish Borders to mark this year’s Suicide Prevention Week (5-11 September).

Last year 696 people across Scotland died by suicide, the equivalent of around two lives taken each day. In 2015, the Scottish Borders saw an increase of the number of suicides from 12 to 18.

For each suicide, the impact on those left behind lasts a lifetime. One of the ways that NHS Borders, SBC and organisations in the voluntary and statutory sectors are working together to raise awareness and to provide support for the people affected by this issue is by taking part in the Choose Life’s annual ‘Read between the Lines’ campaign.

The campaign acknowledges that signs of suicide can be ambiguous, but encourages people to be aware of the warning signs and take all signs of distress seriously, even if the person seems to be living a normal life. It also aims to assure people that asking a person about what’s troubling them can make a positive difference.

Councillor Catriona Bhatia, SBC's Executive Member for Health Service said: “Suicide Prevention Week is an opportunity for us all to come together to raise awareness and share knowledge about suicide prevention. Suicide is a complicated issue, sometimes hard to understand, but what we do know is that talking about it can help. If you’re worried about someone, such as a friend, family member or workmate, it’s important that you take the signs seriously and know that making the effort to ask them directly about their feelings, you could ultimately help to save their life.”

Allyson McCollam, Associate Joint Director of Public Health for NHS Borders and SBC added: “Suicide has an immense impact on society, on local communities and on individuals, and we can all play a large part in preventing suicides. This week is a chance to remind people across the Borders of the support and help that is available to help them gain valuable skills in identifying the signs of suicidal intent in the people around them – friends, colleagues, family members or neighbours – and to encourage them to make contact and get them to talk about how they feel.”

There are a number of organised events taking place in the Scottish Borders during Suicide Prevention week for anyone with life experience or those who are supporting others through a difficult time are welcome to join.

Anyone looking to find out more about the events that are happening during Suicide Prevention week should contact the Joint Health Improvement Team on 01835 825970 or visit www.nhsborders.scot.nhs.uk.

If you or someone you care for require support on this subject please contact Breathing Space on 0800 838587 or Samaritans on 116 123.

More information about the Choose Life ‘Read between the Lines’ campaign is available at: www.chooselife.net.


Events taking place in the Scottish Borders during Suicide Prevention week are as follows:

Monday 5 September

MacArts – Bridge Street, Galashiels TD1 1SP – 10am – 2pm

 Café conversations – Borders Voluntary Care Voice in partnership with Suicide Prevention Team are hosting a feedback café for people with life experience of suicide to give their thoughts to the Mental Health Strategy which is currently open for consultation. Members of all known relevant organisations have been invited but this event is open to all.

Borders Voluntary Care Voice supports the development of local partnerships t promote good practice in the planning and provision of health and social care services.


Tuesday 6 September

Eyemouth Community Centre, Albert Road, Eyemouth TD14 5DE

safeTALK training is intended as ‘suicide alertness’ training. safeTALK teaches you to recognise people with thoughts of suicide and to connect them to suicide intervention resources. This three and a half hour free training session is designed for communities or organisations that already have ASIST trained helpers in place to maximise intervention as the main suicide prevention focus. To register your interest, please contact Joint Health Improvement Team. health.improvement@borders.scot.nhs.uk.


Wednesday 7 September

Fresh Start (SAMH) 50-52 Island Street, Galashiels TD1 1NU

 Hopeful Steps Walk around Galashiels. To help promote suicide prevention awareness you are invited on a five mile walk around the Galashiels area to drive home the message that reading between the lines can save lives. The walk will start at 6pm (registration from 5:30pm) at Fresh Start (SAMH) 50-52 Island Street, Galashiels TD1 1NU and will finish with refreshments at Fresh Start (SAMH).


Thursday 8 September – Halls of Residence, Heriott Watt University, Galashiels campus - 11.30am - 2pm

 Every year, several companies (nightclubs, restaurants, fastfood etc) come to visit us and give out freebies. With an outside DJ set, it's always a lovely occasion to enjoy the weather as well as the food and drinks on offer.

1 in 4 people suffer from depression is the take home message from the Joint Health Improvement Teams information stand at this year’s student fresher’s fayre. You might say you are fine, but what does ‘fine’ really mean?