A strategy focused on the prevention of suicide will be published at the end of March.

Cabinet Office Minister Kate Lord-Brennan has said Public Health has been asked to publish the document.

She told the House of Keys in a sitting this week that, after the draft report came to her in mid-December, she asked for changes to be made.

When asked why she only read it for the first time at the end of last year, she said it was better for the strategy to come forward in a formal way ‘rather than have ongoing involvement’.

She added that she thought she was getting involved ‘at the right time’ and it would help her identify any problems.

Ms Lord-Brennan said: ‘Getting any strategy right, clear and fit for purpose is very important.

‘The first sight I had of the draft strategy was last year.

‘It didn’t quite meet my requirements to give me confidence to take it forward.

‘It had positive feedback but was perhaps premature.’

She explained that there had been a suggestion that with that strategy there would be a further action plan in a few months time, which she felt needed to be brought forward with the strategy.

As well as this, there needed to be ‘clear, accountable actions’ that could tie back to specific agencies to carry those out, for example the ambulance service, Manx Care or the police.

‘It was unclear on that point,’ Ms Lord-Brennan said.

The report will be finalised by the director of Public Health and considered by the Council of Ministers.

A multi-agency group was established in 2020 but its work was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Core members include senior representatives from Manx Care, the third sector, and experts through experience.

Public Health coordinate any meetings they have.

Ann Corlett wanted further answers on why it was taking so long, adding that much work has taken place in other jurisdictions.

She asked if the Isle of Man was approaching this in a different way.

Ms Lord-Brennan said she had asked these same questions and was assured that the island was learning from what works elsewhere.

MHK Joney Faragher mentioned there had already been a ‘significant amount’ of input from departments, with experts having already informed on the strategy.

She added that the statistics emerging in the strategy ‘warrant urgency’ and urged the minister that the report should be published sooner than the end of March.

‘It’s important it’s set out to work,’ Ms Lord-Brennan said.

‘There are elements of this that need to be formalised a bit more.

‘I understand it’s important and urgent but there’s a formality to this process.’

However, MHK for Arbory, Castletown and Malew Tim Glover suggested that, rather like the Island Plan, this doesn’t need to be a ‘rigid document’ and will inevitably be amended over the years.

The minister added that despite the delay in the strategy being settled, it ‘doesn’t mean nothing’s going on’.

She explained that help is always available in the form of a volunteer support service as well as comprehensive support online.

Ms Lord-Brennan added: ‘It’s not all about a long-term prevention strategy.’