Special Interest Group - Development of Effective National Suicide Prevention Strategy and Practice


Prof. Steve Platt

        Co-Chair: Prof. Steve Platt

Prof. Mohsen Rezaeian

        Co-Chair: Prof. Mohsen Rezaeian


The World Health Organization encourages all its members to take effective action to prevent suicidal behaviour, but recognises that there is no one way forward. Countries that have relatively comprehensive national response are advised to focus on evaluation and improvement, updating knowledge with new data, and emphasising effectiveness and efficiency. Countries with existing suicide prevention activities should identify what is already in place and where there are gaps that need to be filled. Countries yet to undertake suicide prevention activities should concentrate on identifying and engaging stakeholders, developing activities where there is greatest need or where resources already exist, and improving surveillance.

IASP and WHO recognise the need to provide expert support to countries, especially low and middle income countries [LAMICs], where suicide prevention action has not yet been initiated or where activities are being undertaken in a non-strategic and uncoordinated manner.

Objectives: The The objectives of this SIG are to:

SIG Launch and Operations:

The SIG Development of effective national suicide prevention strategy and practice, chaired by Steve Platt and Mohsen Rezaeian, was launched at the IASP World Congress in Kuching, Malaysia, on 20 July 2017. Jane Pirkis, Ella Arensman and Alexandra Fleischmann spoke about the impetus for the SIG to address the needs and aspirations of countries where suicide prevention action has not yet been initiated or where action lacks strategic foundation. Murad Khan presented on recent developments and challenges in suicide prevention in Pakistan and Mohsen Rezaeian gave an overview of key priorities and recent activities in suicide prevention in Iran. Ella Arensman gave an update of recent developments and initiatives in suicide prevention in Afghanistan, informed by Bashir Sarwari. The terms of reference of the SIG and some preliminary ideas for taking the work of the SIG forward were discussed.

Most of the work of the SIG is being conducted through Task Forces (TFs). Steve Platt is temporarily looking after TF1, which aims to establish processes for the development and maintenance of the resource library. Richard McKeon and Jerry Reed have been appointed Coordinators of TF2, which aims to evaluate current models and develop guidance for establishing, implementing and evaluating community-level suicide prevention activities. Jan Mokkenstorm has been appointed Coordinator of TF3, which aims to identify and consider communities and countries which would benefit from SIG support and mentorship. TF4, which is intended to support the planning and organisation of a pilot meeting of Health Ministers in Caribbean basin in 2018 to develop national suicide prevention strategies, is currently on hold.

TF1, TF2 and TF3 will be fully operational during the year. The initial emphasis will be on finalising tasks, timeline, ways of working and resource requirements. The SIG Chairs will be in regular contact with TF coordinators, in order to provide support and review progress. In conjunction with TF2 and TF3, several case studies of LAMICs which are at an early stage of developing national suicide prevention strategy or activity are being planned. Work on these case studies, including India (led by Dan Reidenberg) and Iran (led by Mohsen Rezaeian), will also be underway this year. Fulfilment of the objectives of each TF, and of the SIG as a whole, is heavily dependent on the active and enthusiastic participation of SIG members, working in collaboration with the Chairs, TF Coordinators and case study leaders.

During 2018 SIG members carried out a range of activities, including:

We welcome expressions of interest from current SIG members and we urge IASP members who would like to become involved (but have not yet joined the SIG) to contact either of the Chairs via email.

Steve Platt: steve.platt@ed.ac.uk; Mohsen Rezaeian: moeygmr2@yahoo.co.uk