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IASP Newsletters - October 2000

FROM THE PRESIDENT PROFESSOR DIEGO DE LEO MD PHD

The occasion of the splendid Bled Conference allowed the meeting of the Executive Board members of IASP and also contact with a number of friends and colleagues. It was a very good opportunity to monitor the progress of the new Board and to verify if, after 10 months from its installment, facts are starting to speak louder than words.

First of all, it was very good that the organisers of the Bled Conference provided us with the opportunity to make a short introductory speech at the opening ceremony. I think that it underlined the role of IASP as the umbrella organisation in the field of suicidology. I wish that this opportunity may become a new tradition for future conferences.

Vanda Scott made a wonderful contribution with the reorganisation of the databank and the files of the Association. We have now great order in our files and Vanda has also started the very important task of reconstructing the relevant documents that testify the history of our Association. Unfortunately, the material available up to now is very scant. It would certainly be great to have minutes and other documents in relation to the main events of the Association from its early days to now. If someone possesses relevant material, especially to the first 20 years of the life of the Association, they are kindly invited to send a copy of it to the General Secretary. I think it is important that this archive be reconstructed to constitute historical patrimonium of IASP.

We have launched some initiatives for the recruitment of new members and relevant information will be provided in the next issue of the newsletter. Lars Mehlum also made a great job with the building up of the new website of the Association. It is beautifully designed and is intended to become a permanent vehicle of exchange amongst members of the Association, increasing its visibility and constituting also (this is our hope) a permanent forum for discussion, also in scientific matters. Lars refers specifically about the website in this issue of the newsletter.

The document related to the Constitution of the College of Presidents is ready and envisages two specific functions of this new committee: to provide expertise and wisdom to newly appointed Executive Board Members and to stimulate and monitor the activities of the taskforces. We are presently revising the activities of the latter and their status with the aim of rendering them more active and functional. We also envisage the opportunity of obtaining from each taskforce an annual report which may then be published by the Central Office and circulated amongst members and outside our organisation. A new taskforce on Mobbing has been constituted and will be developed by Professor Michel Debout. The taskforce on Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia was formally dismantled at the end of 1999, but there are members who want to continue in this activity and certainly the Executive Board is extremely open to its continuation. Professor Frank Varghese, from Australia, expressed the wish to be an active promoter of the activities of this taskforce and people who are interested may directly contact him at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Department of Mental Health, Woolloongabba Queensland 4102, Australia. (email: FVarghese@medicine.pa.uq.edu.au)

The Board has decided to promote a more intense and creative life in the National Representative Group, particularly addressing the importance of a more effective National Assembly at the bi-annual congresses. National delegates are kindly invited to refer to Ad Kerkhof or to the General Secretary to see their contributions published either in Crisis or in the Newsletter.

Lanny Berman is taking care of the Roundtable of the Main Organisations. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has adhered to the initiative and the same is true for the new section of Suicidology of the World Psychiatric Association and for the International Association of Thanatology and Suicidology. Contacts are still occurring between the World Federation for Mental Health, the International Psychogeriatric Association, the European Psychiatric Association and other organisations which pay particular attention to the issue of suicide. Under the guidance of Norman Farberow (who else if not him?), the subcommittee of survivors has been constituted. Interested people are invited to liaise directly with him (Farberow@aol.com). Several efforts have been made in the creation of an International Day for Suicide Prevention. Many contacts have occurred, with the United Nations in particular, and also with several national organisations already setting up celebrative events for Suicide Prevention in their countries. Surely the initiative is not easy to develop, but I must say I am more optimistic now than at the beginning of the enterprise.

Suicide Prevention Australia has offered support in several of IASP initiatives and I am very much looking forward to a better cooperation with this very well organised association in Australia. I am also confident that a better cooperation with the International Academy for Suicide Research may occur in the future, particularly in the sharing of scientific enterprises such as the new WHO SUPRE-MISS project, which is now completing its pilot phase in different centres. Many different countries have requested participation in the study and I very much welcome all these requests. I encourage everybody to join this effort in the view of improving cooperation and the communication between researchers and scholars with the common scope of better understanding the many facets of suicidal behaviour.

Lakshmi Vijayakumar is working hard on the organisation of the Chennai Conference next September, and it looks great. It will be a unique occasion to visit this incredibly beautiful country with such a long history and with so many things to learn about its culture.

I also want to express my gratitude to the organiser of the beautiful Athens Conference last October. There were revenues from the Congress and this is good news. $1760.00 was given to IASP from the organistion of that Congress and that is a very stimulating aspect. I really hope that Chennai organisers may also provide an occasion to gratify the Treasurer of our Association.

With regards to the Chennai Conference, I have to add that two symposia will be dedicated to French and Spanish speaking presenters. This is in acceptance of long standing requests from members whose mother language is not English. We definitely want to promote the participation of more countries allowing everybody to feel at home within IASP. We are confident in a good response to this initiative.

We are now looking to the organisation of the 2005 IASP Congress in a Central or Southern American country. It has been a long time since an IASP Conference has been organised there and it will be nice to be hosted by countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia or Peru. So I hope that the national representatives and the people who sympathise with IASP may take this invitation and submit a proposal very soon. Another option that we would like to encourage also, is to organise the Conference in Japan in 2005. As you know, there is the tradition of moving from one continent to another. After Chennai there will be Stockholm in 2003, and then we should move from Europe to another continent, preferably to Central or South America, but Japan would also be a great choice. We are aware of an attractive offer for organising the congress in Ireland in the same year and we are giving high consideration to that. We will let you know.

I wish to warmly welcome the advent of John Connolly as the co-Director of our Journal Crisis. John will help Ad Kerkhof in the management of Crisis, and knowing him pretty well, I am sure that he will constitute a powerful and energetic engine for the development of the Journal. I wish for Professor Slavica Selakovic-Bursic to have a very useful time coordinating the activities of the national organisation and I hope that the new settlements in her country will favour her activity with new motivation and serenity.

It is already time to look at the Awards of our Association which are reported extensively in this issue of the newsletter. The deadline for the Awards is 1st February 2001. Please remember that the nominees do not have to be IASP members.

I thank you for your attention and I am looking forward to giving you more "facts" with the next Newsletter.

Yours, Diego