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Last Updated: Monday, 8 September, 2003, 07:04 GMT 08:04 UK
Training to spot suicide risks
Mental health image
The scheme was first developed in Australia
Classes to help nurses and social workers identify people at risk from suicide are to be introduced in an attempt to improve Scotland's record on treating mental illness.

Figures show that young Scottish men are far more likely to commit suicide than their English counterparts and across Europe the suicide rate has risen over the past thirty years.

The Scottish Executive said it plans to tackle the problem by addressing what is thought to be one of the key factors - a lack of social support.

In a pilot project, health and social workers will receive training to help identify mental illness in members of the public.

They will learn how to discuss the person's problems and then point them towards proper treatment programmes.

'Important message'

Deputy Health Minister Tom McCabe said: "This is not a terrible thing, it affects many people, it can very often be a one-off episode and thereafter people lead a perfectly normal life.

"It's about getting those messages across."

The scheme was first developed in Australia and Scotland has become the first European country to use it.

The measure is one of several set to be unveiled by the Scottish Executive on Monday.

Further initiatives, to improve public awareness of mental health issues, will also be outlined.

BBC Scotland's David Henderson
"People who have suicidal feelings often go unnoticed"

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