Regional suicide prevention networks

Regional suicide prevention networks: launch of a new initiative

IASP and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognise the need to encourage and support countries to develop, implement and evaluate national suicide prevention strategies. The IASP Special Interest Group (SIG) for the Development of Effective Suicide Prevention Strategy & Practice was established to promote this important goal.

In support of the objectives of our SIG and mindful of the challenging international context (in particular, the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath), we are launching a new initiative: the establishment of regionally designated suicide prevention networks. The aims of this initiative are:

  • to share experience in, and/or knowledge and learning about, suicide prevention strategies between countries within each region
  • to support the development of a strategic, cross-sectoral and evidence-informed approach to suicide prevention in countries within each region
  • to support collaboration, coordination and mutual support with respect to the development, implementation and evaluation of suicide prevention strategies between countries within each region and between regions
  • to promote learning and provide mentorship between countries with established suicide prevention strategies and countries which are at an earlier stage of suicide prevention strategy development
  • to raise global awareness about the importance and potential positive impact of a comprehensive, national strategic approach to suicide prevention.

We are delighted to announce the names of colleagues who have accepted our invitation to take on the coordination role for each region:

Africa: Dr Joseph Osafo

Eastern Mediterranean: Professor Mohsen Rezaeian

Europe: Assoc. Professor Thomas Niederkrotenthaler

The Americas: Dr Jerry Reed

South-East Asia: Professor Lakshmi Vijayakumar

Western Pacific: Professor Yutaka Motohashi.

A Steering Group, comprising the regional network coordinators, IASP Executive Director (Wendy Orchard), IASP International Advisor (Vanda Scott) and SIG co-chairs, has been established to take responsibility for the successful implementation of the initiative, guide and oversee the delivery of the work programme in each region, and provide mutual support to meet ongoing challenges and barriers to progress.

The Steering Group is in the process of developing the work programme for its first year of operation. We have identified the following key tasks:

  • undertaking a situational analysis in each country, covering: epidemiology of suicidal behaviour, stage of development of suicide prevention strategy and action, and the social, political and cultural context
  • administration of a global survey, with a view to updating knowledge about the activities, gaps and potential for suicide prevention and development/maintenance of a national strategy in each country.
  • identification of key contacts in countries within each region, prioritising LMICs without a suicide prevention strategy
  • establishment of good working relationship and mutual understanding between the regional coordinator and key country contacts
  • acquisition of resources
  • supporting the establishment/maintenance of national teams and collaborative activity under the leadership of the key contact in each country.

Look out for regular updates of progress in the IASP newsletter and at international conferences. We invite all IASP members to support or become involved in this new and exciting initiative, in whatever way you can. You will find our contact details below.

Professor Stephen Platt 

Professor Mohsen Rezaeian

Co-chairs, Special Interest Group for the Development of Effective Suicide Prevention Strategy & Practice.