Presidential Message

IASP President’s Message – Quarter 1, 2022

With a couple of months of 2022 already upon us, it is a good opportunity to review our goals and intentions for the months ahead. Despite the turbulence of the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 having created further uncertainty across the globe, we remain hopeful that we are through the worst, though cautious that vaccines reach all corners of the globe.

It is vital that we do all that we can to protect our own mental health and prioritize self-care especially as economic and cost of living challenges ramp up. Irrespective of whether you have been working, studying or volunteering within the field of suicide prevention during this difficult time, it has brought with it an intensity and immediacy stemming from the demand for current research and targeted supports for those who are most vulnerable in society. As we help others, it’s so important that we do not neglect ourselves. The saying ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’ is particularly appropriate in this context, so please look after yourselves.

Although the pandemic has negatively impacted our lives in so many ways, it has also reinforced our collective resilience and sense of community. There have been many signs of solidarity and a strong sense of togetherness over the past two years. Human connection is an inherent aspect of society and we all need social contact to maintain our wellbeing. Our interactions have changed significantly as a result of the pandemic; however, it is vital that we keep our lines of communication open and nurture our relationships so that the physical distancing that we have experienced during COVID is not further exacerbated by social and emotional distancing.

Speaking of human connection, I am excited about the opportunity to meet in person as well as online at the hybrid IASP 10th Asia Pacific Conference which will be held on the Gold Coast, Australia, from May 3rd-5th 2022. Early bird registration for the conference is now open and we are extremely grateful to our conference partners, the National Mental Health Commission, Roses in the Ocean and LivingWorks Australia for their involvement in hosting this event with us. As well as our conference partners, organisations including Beyond Blue, Orygen, the Brain & Mind Centre and the Suicide Prevention Office New Zealand have generously supported us in offering a number of bursaries, ensuring attendance at the conference is as inclusive as possible.

Then, later in the year, the 19th European Symposium for Suicide and Suicidal Behaviour (ESSSB) will take place later this year in Copenhagen from 24th-27th August 2022. I am hoping to attend this event in person, and as a past organiser of the Symposium, it has a special place in my heart. It’s a great event! Registration is due to open in the coming weeks.

As well as events, I am excited to be launching IASP’s first podcast series. With the first episode due within weeks, the series aims to widen our conversations around suicide and suicide prevention and it is an excellent opportunity to take a closer look at hot topics in our field. We hope to bring different aspects of our work and research, to life, providing a global as well as a personal perspective, and sharing stories of hope. I’ll be delighted to be talking with a fantastic selection of guest speakers in the coming months.

We also look forward to our annual suicide prevention month-long campaign, commencing with World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th and closing with World Mental Health Day on October 10th. Every year, this campaign provides us with a valuable opportunity to highlight suicide and its preventability on a global scale. I look forward to being a part of these events and witnessing the creative approaches that our members use to spread the message of suicide prevention worldwide.

I am energised by what is to come in 2022, so please check in regularly on our website or follow us on social media to get the latest news of what is happening. Finally, let’s pledge to lean in, to extend hope, empathy and compassion to ourselves and others, as we strive together to find light in the shade and darkness that, for too many, prevail.