Since the publication of our previous issue of the IASP news bulletin, we have collectively endured a challenging few months. The covid-19 pandemic has taken the entire world by surprise, knowing no boundaries, and affecting high, low- and middle-income nations alike. We are experiencing a unique health crisis and one that will inevitably have long term, wide-ranging effects on the global population.
As we know, the impact of the virus over the last 7-8 months has not only been on the physical health of the population, but also on the mental health. Suicide has become a more pressing concern as the pandemic has spread and has required our urgent consideration. I am encouraged by our IASP community of researchers, practitioners, volunteers, and students around the world, who have risen to the challenge in recent months to forge a path for suicide prevention during these uncertain times. As the leading global suicide prevention organisation, we have achieved several important objectives in recent months. Namely, the establishment of the Covid-19 Resource Centre, including international briefings, intergovernmental and nongovernmental resources, external publications, research, tools, and resources; all of which have been compiled by IASP for your ease of accessibility. Information relating to upcoming events is also listed on the centre webpage. You are invited to utilise this valuable information hub, accessible here, to inform and assist your suicide prevention work.
Furthermore, the development of the International Covid-19 Suicide Prevention Research Collaboration (ICSPRC) involving experts from around 30 countries demonstrates collaboration taking place at an unprecedented pace. The aim is to enhance good quality research on the prevention and management of suicide and suicidal behaviours, specifically relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent weeks, the ICSPRC have authored an editorial article in Crisis, addressing the need for a global response to understand the impact of the pandemic on suicide and suicidal behaviour, as well as effective strategies to mitigate the risk. Additionally, a series of webinars have been planned by the ICSPRC, with members addressing relevant topics relating to suicide and self-harm during the crisis including the need for real-time suicide surveillance data, personal safety and emergency response planning, to name but a few. The recording of the most recent webinars can be found on the Covid-19 Resource Centre webpage, where information relating to upcoming webinars is also listed. On August 18th, I will be a part of the Lancet Psychiatry United for a Global Mental Health. You can register in advance for this webinar here.
On September 10th, we will observe World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), our annual event. WSPD offers us the opportunity to highlight the major public health issue that is suicide and encourages us to engage with each other and to join together to spread awareness of suicide prevention. This year marks the penultimate year of our triennial WSPD theme, “Working Together to Prevent Suicide”. The theme is even more fitting this year since we have a shared global experience of working together to fight a global threat. We may not be able to congregate in person for our usual activities; however, we can still connect virtually by means of online webinars and our traditional IASP community events, Cycle around the Globe and Light a Candle. In particular, the Cycle around the Globe campaign supports community-based suicide prevention activities in low-middle income countries. I encourage you to contribute any distance on any route to help communities recognize suicide feelings and support those in need to seek help. Registration is now open at our Charity Footprints page here.
While these are indeed the most difficult of times, we must stay motivated and continue with our mission to ensure that mental health and suicide prevention remain priorities across the globe. Our shared compassion and determination give us the strength to battle on against the impacts of this virus. I hope you all continue to be well; look after yourselves and each other.
Professor Murad Khan