Fire fighters from Shetland’s 14 fire stations are to receive awareness training for suicide prevention in a year-long training programme delivered by NHS Shetland.
The launch of the training programme coincided with national Suicide Prevention Awareness Week which starts today.
Training will initially be given to watch managers at all the island stations before being rolled out to other retained fire fighters over the next year.
Suicide statistics for Scotland published in August 2016 show that while the overall number of suicides is reducing, Shetland has had the country’s highest male suicide rate over the last five years.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service group manager for Shetland Myles Murray said: “Having lost people I know to suicide and having spoken to people who have thought of taking their own lives I think it is vitally important that we do whatever is necessary to make our staff aware of the signs that can lead a person to committing suicide.
“Shetland has a male suicide rate higher than the national average.
“We are a small community in Shetland and by working with NHS Shetland we can hopefully raise awareness of the subject among our own staff and others.”
A roadshow promoting the message “Stop Saying ‘I’m Fine’ If You’re Not” will visit venues across Shetland this week.
NHS Choose Life coordinator Karen Smith said: “The roadshow aims to raise awareness to everyone to be alert to the warning signs of suicide in people close to them.
“The message is that it’s okay to ‘not be okay’ and that sometimes individuals need to look for help.
“In Shetland, for men in particular, this can be a difficult concept and they don’t often ask for help.
“This is an excellent opportunity for NHS Shetland to work with local fire services to be able to deliver the awareness training.”
Mr Murray said: “I’m delighted that the benefit of partner agency working will be cascaded to retained personnel across the islands.
“I Iook forward to working with Karen on this very worthwhile project.”