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World Suicide Prevention Day - 10th September

2008 WSPD

2008 - Think Globally, Plan Nationally, Act Locally

(Click the link above to find World Suicide Prevention Day flyers in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Chinese, and to find a listing of activities from around the world.)

Think Globally - Extent of the Problem
Think Globally - Collaboration
Think Globally - Research
Plan Nationally - Strategy
Plan Nationally - Evaluation
Plan Nationally - Collaboration
Act Locally - Implementation of Programs
Act Locally - Community Initiatives
Act Locally - Advocacy
What You can do to Support World Suicide Prevention Day

Act Locally - Implementation of programmes

Think Globally, Plan Nationally, Act Locally is particularly relevant in considering the local implementation of national plans for suicide prevention and the development of suicide prevention activities at the local level where national plans do not exist.

Internationally, there is broad consensus about the types of interventions which are effective in suicide prevention. National plans articulate more specific policy agendas that are adapted to national specificities. However, the translation of those policy agendas requires effective implementation at a local level. At a local level national plans must be customized and implemented to meet the distinct ecological, economic, and cultural requirements of their communities. Further, while global and national efforts may take years to implement, community efforts may be substantially less time consuming.

This process of local execution of national plans raises important issues about how broad policy directions by governments and ministries can be translated into effective locally based programmes. Greater use of the principles of prevention science by community planners and service providers may help resolve these issues. A prevention science approach requires that broad policy action advocated by governments and ministries is carefully translated into service development.

The key principles of programme development within the prevention science framework include: using theory and research evidence to develop promising policies and interventions; using pilot, model and demonstration programmes to determine the acceptability, feasibility, safety and effectiveness of a proposed programme to the targeted population; programme evaluations to examine the processes by which the programme is delivered and the efficacy, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the programme; identifying meaningful outcome measures, and refining and identifying the critical elements of effective programmes.

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Act Locally - Community Initiatives

Of course, the Think Globally, Plan Nationally, Act Locally process is not uni-directional and does not always involve the devolution from national plans to local activities.

An example of local programme development evolving to national and global action is provided by a current collaborative project, the European Alliance Against Depression. This developed from a community-based project, the Nuremberg Alliance Against Depression, established in the German city of Nuremberg (population 500 000). Based on research that shows depression is the most common risk factor for suicide, the aims of this project were to improve the care of depressed people and thereby prevent suicide. A four-component intervention was mounted which included: increasing public awareness about suicide; improving the care provided by primary care practitioners; educating community gatekeepers; and targeting care available to high-risk groups. On the basis of evaluation results indicating sigtnificant decreases in suicide attempts and suicides, more than 40 German towns have implemented the Nuremberg model under the umbrella of the German Alliance Against Depression.

The model has been expanded further with the European Commission funding 20 partners in 18 countries to implement the programme. These sites have adapted programme materials somewhat to take account of differing cultures and heterogeneous health and social service structures. While individual partner sites will conduct evaluations (acting locally), the rationale for the programme and its development is based upon research findings around the world (thinking globally).

Another example of a local community suicide prevention programme is provided by the US Air Force. The institution employed a multimodal strategy involving changing institutional policies and norms in order to encourage helpseeking for mental health, substance abuse or psychosocial problems, strengthening social support, and promoting effective coping strategies. The programme was associated with reductions in suicide, homicide and family violence, and is now being adapted to college and workplace settings.

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Act Locally - Advocacy

In many countries, local voluntary organizations have been extremely effective in influencing governments to develop national suicide prevention strategies and increase funding for suicide prevention activities. For example, SPAN in the United States, is an organization of survivors, persons bereaved by suicide. This organization was instrumental in convincing the national government to develop, implement and finance a national strategy for suicide prevention.

Suicide prevention is a young field. Despite the large body of research about the risk factors for suicidal behaviour, the field is only now converting this information into effective programmes to prevent and reduce suicide. Although it is now possible to develop clearly articulated policies and goals for suicide prevention at global and national levels, we know less about how these goals can be translated into effective action. In the coming decades the major challenges for the Think Globally, Plan Nationally, Act Locally dictum is to find ways of linking international ideals and national policies with well-implemented and well-evaluated local programmes and actions.

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WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY

World Suicide Prevention Day 2008 provides a unique opportunity to organize local, regional and national activities to increase public awareness of the problem of suicidal behaviour, and the opportunities for suicide prevention. All people who are interested in and involved in suicide prevention at international, national, state, regional and community levels can participate in various activities on World Suicide Prevention Day 2008. Those activities may call attention to the global burden of suicidal behaviour, discuss national strategies for suicide prevention and how they can be implemented and evaluated, and showcase local community initiatives and responses for suicide prevention.

Initiatives which actively educate and involve people are likely to be most effective in helping people learn new information about suicide and suicide prevention. Examples of activities which can support World Suicide Prevention Day include:

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A list of initiatives and activities that have been undertaken around the world on previous World Suicide Prevention Days can be accessed in the right panel of this page. We encourage you to consult this list and see what others have done to publicise suicide prevention. Also, please fill out World Suicide Prevention Day Activities Form to tell us what activities you plan for WSPD 2008.