SCOTLAND’S new Mental Health Minister has insisted the Government’s suicide prevention plan will be published in the coming weeks.

It was supposed to have been released at the end of last month, but it’s thought the reshuffle that saw Clare Haughey replace Maureen Watt has slown down progress.

There were 680 probable suicides registered in Scotland last year, down from 728 in 2016.

The latest figures revealed a slight rise in suicides among men, from 517 to 522.

Scottish Tory mental health spokeswoman Annie Wells said: “It’s not good enough that Scotland has been without a suicide prevention strategy for a year-and-a-half.

“The SNP Government said it would publish this by the end of June, but still nothing has happened.

“This should be a priority area for any government but clearly the SNP’s actions don’t match their words.

“Suicide remains a major killer in Scotland, particularly among men, yet we have an SNP Government that is being complacent. We cannot afford for this to drag on any longer.”

Responding to the Tory comments, Haughey said: “As the newly- appointed Mental Health Minister, I am determined that the new prevention plan continues the downward trend of suicides in Scotland.

“My first actions have included meeting with a number of key suicide prevention stakeholders as we work to finalise the measures that will be central to further reducing suicides.

“I intend to publish the new plan in the coming weeks. This will include delivering better support to those bereaved by suicide, developing reviews for all deaths from suicide and investing at least £3 million to support a new national leadership group on suicide prevention.”

The Mental Health Foundation Scotland said it had been working closely with the Scottish Government. Policy manager Toni Giugliano said: “We’ve been clear to Ministers about our red lines in supporting the new plan, due to be published imminently.

“Existing suicide prevention structures are no longer fit for purpose and many local authorities are reducing investment in this area. We need a new national body with teeth and resources to instil new drive and leadership in national and local suicide prevention work.”