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Experts join forces to emphasise the benefits of choosing life

Scottish Experts on suicide say the key to preventing deaths is for organisations, including the media, to work together.

Psychologist Dr Rory O'Connor, who leads the Suicidal Behaviour Research Group at the University of Stirling, is to head a conference on suicidal behaviour which is taking place in Glasgow this August.

O'Connor, the joint president of the 12th European Symposium on Suicide and Suicidal Behaviour, said: "This will be the largest suicide prevention conference to have been held in Scotland.

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"Indeed, this is the leading suicide prevention conference in Europe and the theme of this year's conference is working together to prevent suicide."

The conference aims to bring together everyone who has an interest in preventing suicide, including healthcare professionals, policy planners, researchers and clinicians, as well as those affected by suicide.

Delegates from across the UK, Europe, US, Australia and New Zealand are expected to attend.

O'Connor said: "Suicide prevention is complex and difficult. Only by working together will we prevent it."

Frances Simpson, the Scottish development officer with the Samaritans in Scotland, said inter-agency collaboration meant she had seen an encouraging reduction in the number of suicides in the past year.

She said: "The campaign Choose Life seems to be having an impact in general awareness. Talking about it has helped get our message out as has working with other agencies.

"Along with good coverage, Choose Life and Breathing Space, a confidential phone line service, the awareness of suicide has been raised.

"Agencies must work together and the media has had a part to play in this. The Samaritans have had a lot of support from the Scottish media and a lot of positive reportage.

"They are getting the message across and appropriately - it's a fine balance and that's why guidelines are so important.

"The media can reach people with a very strong message and that message has been consistent - seek help - and that is a key point."

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