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IASP Newsletters - May 2001

From the President
Professor Diego De Leo MD

First of all, let me express gratitude to my Executive Board members and to all those IASP members that have so actively worked during the time of this mandate, which will expire in a few months.

Somethings remain to be done but a lot has been achieved. Let us consider the most visible of these "deliverables": Newsletter and web-site. They are both useful and good tools and they are already rendering a great service to our association. I must admit, on behalf of the EB, that the many compliments that we have received for these initiatives have been very rewarding and a further stimulus to do more and better. Thomas Bronisch, Gert Jessen and Paul Corcoran have recently joined the editorial board of these electronic activities and we are very confident that their support will provide further ideas and initiatives to the new IASP media.

I have made reference to the most visible achievements. Believe me: the hard work has been in the dark side of the moon. Now we have records of members, national delegates and organisations in proper order, and I have very clearly to say that this is a new fact in the life of IASP. Vanda made incredible (and very frustrating) efforts to reach this extremely important result, which may sound trivial but instead it truly represents a real achievement for our organisation, thanks to the persistence and determination of the general secretary. Bravo, Vanda, well done!

The registration of IASP as a charitable association also took up a lot of our time. Unfortunately, the previous secretarial office was unable to provide us assistance by evidencing the existence of a registration. Thus, we could not exploit the potential continuation/renewal option, and we were forced to start new procedures with different countries (Norway in primis, thanks to Lars, and then USA, Switzerland and Belgium). To be a registered charitable organisation is an imperative today, otherwise it could become impossible to receive economic support from international funding agencies.

Another important but "hidden" work concerned the preparation of large amounts of documents, which were aimed to provide clear guidelines for future generations of IASP Executive Board members. They ranged from the appointment of the editors in chief of Crisis to the functions of National Delegates Council, from the National Organisations Assembly terms of reference to activities of task forces and their monitoring.

Needless to say, lots of effort has been addressed to new activities, such as the Sub-Committee on Survivors, the Survey of Volunteer Agencies, the College of Presidents, the Round Table of Main International Organisations, and the institution of a World Day for suicide prevention. So far, not all these activities present well-oiled machineries, but all of them have been started and this is very positive and maybe even beyond our own expectations.

Our friends from Central and South America have been very active in the last year and we are greatly intensifying our cooperation and common action. It is really good news that we have now two more candidates (besides Ireland and Russia) for the 2005 IASP congress: Uruguay and Cuba. Both are exciting opportunities for IASP members and it is very rewarding to see how fast the suicide prevention movement is growing over there. As you may remember, for the occasion of the next Chennai congress we took the decision to organize both a Spanish and a French-speaking symposium. Sergio Perez Barrero and Michel Debout have strongly seconded this opportunity and we are all very hopeful for a successful outcome of this initiative.

I cannot avoid to mention how hard Lakshmi (and the other EB members) have worked and are working for the organisation of the congress in India. It has been very reassuring to see so many people of different nationalities working effectively together in such a pleasant climate of cooperation. Of course this does not guarantee the success of the Chennai conference, but everything seems so promising at this stage. So far we have brilliantly coped with a number of problems, some of them painfully unexpected (the earthquake in India, for example!), some other rather habitual in congress organisation (funding, speakers choice, etc). We also must make an apology towards our Jewish friends: in choosing the dates for the congress we unfortunately neglected the fact that the conference dates fall between two major religious festivities, and this may prevent the participation of some of our most esteemed colleagues. A lesson to be learned for the future.

Both election and award procedures are now in full development. We have the good fortune of having as "trustees" of our election Norman Farberow and Nils Retterstol, and I am sure that these "holy wises" will do an impeccable job once more.

All new appointees have gladly accepted their position in the three award committees (Stengel, Ringel, Farberow). Lanny Berman is in full control of the operations. Lanny, aka "early bird" for his 6.00 am participation to our EB teleconferences, surely deserves a note of merit for such a manifest proof of abnegation to the cause of IASP. On the other hand, with a president in Australia and the first vice-president in USA, some sort of compromise had to be reached. Thus, Lanny's 6.00 am corresponds to my 9.00 pm! That is IASP, and it is beautiful that it is this way.

We welcome John Connolly's acceptance to join Ad Kerkhof as a Co Editor-in-Chief on our journal, Crisis. Working with an active board of editors, both Editors give much of their time, as well as significant secretarial support, in order to provide us with a professional journal. Publication dates slipped during 2000 but I understand that by the end of 2001 the journal will be to date. Thank you both for your huge commitment and thanks also to the board and your assistants.

As I said, somethings remain to be done. We have to see our World Day in operation (it may take years!), we have to significantly enlarge our membership body, we have to wait for the results of the College of Presidents and Round Table activities, etc. Finally, we have to see our new IASP certificates attached to our walls! Yes, we are in the process of producing certificates for IASP new members, old members (10 years: silver), and very old members (20 years: gold, clearly). And since we have now records in very good order, we are absolutely sure to whom to send the proper certificate.