Presidential Message

IASP Presidents’ Message

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Another year is upon us! So I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all the very best for 2023. 2022 was another incredibly productive year for IASP. Indeed, I’d encourage you to review the IASP World Suicide Prevention Day Impact Report 2022 which highlights just some of our achievements in 2022. As a collective, we have faced many challenges over the last year as we are still coming to terms with the ongoing effects of the pandemic and its consequences, navigating wars and the cost of living crisis as well as the looming impacts of climate change. However, despite all of these challenges, as an international community, we still managed to come together and achieve extraordinary things. This is also a time to reflect on what values are important to us as individuals and as organisations: inclusion, compassion and equality are core to everything we strive to do at IASP. Practically, as we look out for each other it is clear that our true strength comes from supporting and collaborating with each other locally and globally.

These values are exemplified through our World Suicide Prevention Day activities, when we, as a global community connect, reach out and learn from each other. It is humbling to see the extent of all of your activities, online and face-to-face, organised across the world in the lead-up to and after World Suicide Prevention Day. I would like to thank all of you for your continued efforts, year-on-year, as we go from strength to strength, building a powerful movement; a community that is connected with the shared focus to prevent suicide and to support those affected by suicide. 2023 is the final year of our triennial World Suicide Prevention Day theme “Creating Hope through Action”. Through this theme, we will continue to raise awareness and inspire confidence in individuals to act to prevent suicides, and also to create hope for everyone affected by suicide.

As a membership-based organisation, our strength comes through our community. So, a huge thank you for being a member, as we appreciate that it is a choice to either join IASP or to renew your membership. If there are individuals or organisations you think may be interested in IASP, please consider encouraging them to join us. This year, once again, we have an excellent and stimulating programme of events to look forward to. These include the 32nd World Congress in Piran, Slovenia, and in a few weeks’ time, on 8-9 February the Australasian Research Workshop at Orygen in Parkville, Australia. Both of these events are exciting opportunities to build and reaffirm relationships, especially following the pandemic where we might have felt disconnected from others.

Over the past 12 months, I have been impressed by the development and evolution of Partnerships for Life: Global Initiative to Prevent Suicide. This is such an important development within IASP which is guiding local efforts in the different regions of the world through community action and cooperation. I am delighted to see this initiative grow, bringing together more people with a range of experiences and expertise, exemplifying what we all can achieve through collaboration and partnership. In addition, our Suicide Decriminalisation work remains a key priority. IASP was delighted to receive some immensely encouraging news from Pakistan involving positive developments to decriminalise suicide. On 23 December, President Arif Alvi approved the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill 2022, repealing Section 325 of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860, which deals with penalising suicide attempts. This is extraordinary news and hopefully acts as a catalyst for other countries to follow suit!

A final thought. At a meeting recently, we were talking about new year’s resolutions and I was struck by one suggestion. A colleague said her resolution was a word – each year she resolves to be guided by a word – the resolution is to do things consistent with that word. I really liked this idea; so it got me thinking, what is my word for 2023? So I settled on courage; to have the courage to challenge myself, to do things differently, to step outside my comfort zone. I’ll also try to apply this to the work I do with IASP. So, what is your word for 2023?

Yours sincerely
Prof. Rory O’ Connor
President, IASP
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