Over the last year, the Regional Suicide Prevention Networks Programme (RSPNP) has gained significant momentum, enhancing knowledge within IASP about suicide prevention activity and programmes across and within different regions of the world and promoting collaboration and cooperation in the development and implementation of a strategic and evidence-informed approach to suicide prevention. Each of the six established regions has benefitted from the creative and committed leadership of a network coordinator who seeks to understand and meet regional and subregional suicide prevention needs.
In the Eastern Mediterranean region, Professor Mohsen Rezaeian has prepared and distributed situation analyses and has identified valuable contacts in the region (22 countries). Raising awareness of the programme has been a priority and the response to share information and knowledge between the nations in this region has been extremely encouraging.
In Europe, Professor Thomas Niederkrotenthaler, supported by Professor Steve Platt, has held online meetings with colleagues in just under half of the region’s 53 countries. The majority of these primary contacts work in high income countries which have established suicide prevention programmes or comprehensive national strategies. These meetings are essential to build a strong working relationship between each country and RSPNP, and to develop a comprehensive situation analysis for the region.
The South-East Asia regional team, led by Professor Lakshmi Vijayakumar, has had positive responses from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal to the invitation to join the RSPNP. As a result, Dr Anish Cherian and Professor Vikas Menon have been able to develop a situation analysis for the region which identifies existing suicide prevention activities and highlights potential national strategies.
The Americas region (comprising 35 countries), led originally by Dr Jerry Reed and from May 2022 by Professor Mark Sinyor, comprises at least three distinct sub-regions (North America, Spanish-speaking central and south American countries; and the Caribbean). Key country connections have been identified and approached.
Drawing on the experience of a team of colleagues in the African region (47 countries), Professor Joseph Osafo has developed a potential working model that establishes sub-regions and systematically builds on their shared knowledge and supports increased collaboration. A similar approach is envisaged in the Western Pacific (27 countries) where there is equally large diversity in cultures, languages and available resources within the region.
In a further contribution to the RSPNP, funding has been secured from IASP and the Scottish Government to strengthen the international evidence base on effective interventions to prevent suicide through the conduct of an inter-linked series of umbrella systematic reviews, based on systematic review-level evidence for all major suicide prevention interventions. This project has just commenced and will report in spring 2023.
During the next six months, the RSPNP will initiate a series of regional (or sub-regional) workshops with colleagues in each region. These are intended to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats relating to the implementation and evaluation of national suicide prevention programmes/strategies in each country, generated through peer-to-peer discussion and commentary. Colleagues working in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) will have the opportunity to focus on facilitators of, and barriers to, the development of national programmes/strategies. Time will be allocated in all workshops to formulating an implementation programme for each region.
We are also considering the possibility of holding webinars on national suicide prevention strategy and practice which will be open to a wider range of colleagues (along the lines of the ICSPRC programme of webinars aimed at the suicidal behaviour research community). The other major initiative over the next year will be the 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.
I invite all IASP members to support or become involved in the RSPNP, in whatever way you can. We would like to hear from you.
Professor Stephen Platt
Regional Suicide Prevention Networks Programme - background
The Special Interest Group for the Development of Effective Suicide Prevention Strategy & Practice launched their Regional Suicide Prevention Networks Programme (RSPNP) in 2021. The RSPNP has been established in order to promote collaboration, coordination and mutual support in the development, implementation and evaluation of suicide prevention strategies. This programme is intended to encourage peer learning and facilitate mentorship between countries with established suicide prevention strategies and countries which are at an earlier stage of suicide prevention strategy development. An important feature of the programme is to raise global awareness about the importance and potential positive impact of a comprehensive, national strategic approach to suicide prevention.
The RSPNP is led by a Steering Group comprising the regional coordinators (Professor Joseph Osafo [Africa], Professor Mohsen Rezaeian [Eastern Mediterranean], Professor Thomas Niederkrotenthaler [Europe], Dr Jerry Reed [the Americas], Professor Lakshmi Vijayakumar [South-East Asia], Professor Yutaka Motohashi and Dr Gregory Armstrong [Western Pacific]), Wendy Orchard (IASP Executive Director), Vanda Scott (IASP International Advisor) and Professor Steve Platt (Chair).
Key tasks undertaken during the first year of operation include:
- Developing a situation analysis: the epidemiology of suicidal behaviour; the current status of suicide prevention strategy and action and associated challenges/issues; the social, political and cultural context
- Identifying key country contacts and establishing good working relationships and mutual understanding between these contacts and the regional coordinator
- Supporting national teams and collaborative activity under the leadership of the key contact in each country.