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NUARY 2009

International Association for Suicide Prevention

FROM THE PRESIDENT

Comments and suggestions from members solicited 2009 promises to be an important year in the development of the International Association for Suicide Prevention. We will be holding our 25th World Congress in Montevideo, Uruguay on the 27-31 October (and it is time that you begin to make plans and submit proposals for this exciting meeting). We are also looking forward to many new developments. However, we are at a point where we can greatly benefit from input from IASP members before we proceed. First, in the coming weeks, members will be sent an important document, a proposed “Strategic Overview 2009-2013” of IASP goals and priorities. This document was developed following a review of IASP's previous 5 year strategic operational plan and will be sent to all members in the coming weeks for comments and suggestions. Based upon the priorities and strategic outcomes that are outlined in this document, the IASP Board is in the process of developing a strategic work plan to achieve these outcomes. However, before finalizing any plans, input from all IASP members is being solicited concerning our visions for activities in the coming years. I will be sending a letter with the strategic overview document to all IASP individual and organizational members for comments before the end of January.

Second, if you have visited the IASP web site since last May (www.iasp.info), you will have noticed that there is a change in format and the material on the site is expanding each month. After many years of having the IASP site graciously hosted in Norway by Lars Mehlum at the University of Oslo, IASP is now operating its own site, with the help of a brilliant site developer, Kenneth Hemmerick. We are looking at expanding the restricted “members only” section and we are seeking ways to highlight IASP activities and ensure that IASP is identified easily by various search engines. At this time I would like to invite all IASP members to visit the site and make suggestions about how to improve the site and increase its usefulness for IASP members, as well as the general public. As you can see from the graph on usage of the site, there was a major peak of activity in September around World Suicide Prevention Day. We are looking at ways to capitalize upon the increased visits around this annual event in order to recruit new IASP members and incite visitors to return to the site throughout the year.

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New IASP Task Force: Best Practice Standards in Suicide Prevention for Helplines Helplines worldwide are front line services receiving many thousand of phone calls annually from people at risk of suicide. While individual countries or services may have developed suicide prevention or intervention standards for their services there is no general agreement internationally as to what constitutes best practice in response to a suicidal caller. Over recent years researchers Dawn O'Neil have taken an increased interest in the work of Chair of the IASP Helplines and a body of research is available to Taskforce inform practice. Given our increasingly global world and the increased body of knowledge about suicide prevention it is timely for a new ISAP Task Force to be created to develop evidence based best practice standards for helplines providers. For this reason IASP has convened a new Task Force on Best Practice Standards for Helplines and Crisis Lines.

The Task Force will be chaired by Dawn O'Neil, CEO of Lifeline Australia, and will include delegates from the newly formed Emotional Services Alliance which currently consists of Lifeline International, Samaritans UK, Befrienders Worldwide and IFOTES. We are calling for expressions of interest from the IASP membership to develop the Best Practice Standard for Helplines. The goals of the Task Force will be to: • To develop systematic reviews of research about suicide prevention via a helpline service • To identify gaps in knowledge, to develop a research agenda to address these gaps and to encourage relevant research • To identify, collect and collate existing guidelines and policies for suicide prevention and intervention for Helplines which have been developed in various countries and examine and report on their content, development and implementation. • To draw on the available scientific evidence and knowledge and experience of practitioners working in Crisis / Help lines to develop evidence based standards and practice guidelines to support service providers. • To work collaboratively with helpline and crisis line providers to develop and promote evidence based practice • To improve linkages between helpline and crisis line service providers and researches with an interest in this area. • To assemble a body of knowledge which can provide authoritative comment on issues relate to suicide reduction and prevention

JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC

One of the challenges in developing the web site is the fact that the content of the site is entirely

People who are interested in joining the Task Force can contact

developed on a voluntary basis by IASP members. At the present time, Annette Beautrais (annette.beautrais@yale.edu), the IASP General Secretary, is responsible for screening content to be put on the site. We would like to have the IASP site become an important resource for suicide prevention around the world. We would also like to have as much of the site as possible available in several other languages. Again, we have relied thus far on volunteers to translate the site in other languages. Your suggestions concerning the web site would be greatly appreciated.

dawn.oneil@lifeline.org.au - You need to be a IASP member to be a member of the Task Force. If you are not yet a IASP member you are invited to join using the online submission form at www.iasp.info.

Notification on meeting times and dates will be advised in further bulletins.

Wishing you good health, joy and great accomplishments in the New Year. Brian L. Mishara, Ph.D mishara.brian@uqam.ca President: In official relations with

Please forward, distribute or disseminate this newsletter to others to whom it would be of interest Prof. Brian Mishara

Vice President:

Prof. Heidi Hjelmeland

Vice President:

Prof. Kees van Heeringen

the World Health Organization

Treasurer:

Prof. Thomas Bronisch

General Secretary:

Assoc. Prof. Annette Beautrais

National Rep:

Dr Murad Khan

Organisational Rep:

Dr Jerry Reed


newsbulletin The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) provides awards for those who have contributed in a significant way to the furthering of the aims of the Association. Awards are presented at the IASP biennial conference. INSTRUCTIONSPlease send your nomination directly to the Chairperson of the appropriate Committee. Attach a brief summary of why you feel the nominee is deserving.Nominees do not necessarily have to be IASP members.

The Stengel Research Award has been provided since 1977 and is named in honour of the late Professor Erwin Stengel, one of the founders of the IASP. This award is for outstanding active research with at least 10 years of scientific activity in the field, as evidenced by number and quality of publications in internationally acknowledged journals. THE CRITERIA FOR SELECTION ARE: • Outstanding and active research with at least 10 years of scientific activity in the field, as evidenced by the number and quality of publications in internationally acknowledged journals; •National leadership in the area;• Suicidology is the main (focal) area of interest/ work; •Reasonable expectation (outline to be submitted) of further research activity in the field. THE STENGEL RESEARCH AWARD CHAIRPERSON:

Prof. Keith Hawton, University of Oxford, Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX, United Kingdom Phone: +44 [1865] 226 258 / Fax: +44 [1865] 226 265 E-mail: Keith.Hawton@psych.ox.ac.uk

THE CRITERIA FOR SELECTION ARE: •Actively involved in the practice of suicide prevention and crisis intervention and its dissemination; •Acknowledged as a national initiator or leader in the field; •Suicide prevention and/or crisis intervention should be the main portion of his/her work. RINGEL SERVICE AWARD CHAIRPERSON:

Dr Morton Silverman, 4858 South Dorchester Avenue, Chicago Il 60615-2012, USA Phone: +1 773 550 8179 / Fax: + 1 773 624 3995 E- mail: msilverma@edc.org

The Farberow Award was introduced in 1997 in recognition of Professor Norman Farberow, a founding member and driving force behind the IASP. This award is for a person who has contributed significantly in the field of work with survivors of suicide, and nominations can be made by any member of IASP. THE CRITERIA FOR SELECTION ARE:

The Ringel Service Award was instituted in 1995 and honours the late Professor Erwin Ringel, the founding President of the Association. This award is for distinguished service in the field of suicidology, and nominations can be made by National Representatives of IASP.

•Has been actively involved in the establishment and operation of bereaved by suicide/survivor programs; •Has demonstrated national leadership in the area;•Has contributed to the research and evaluation of such programs; • Will continue to be involved in this important area of work. FARBEROW AWARD CHAIRPERSON:

Karl Andriessen, Vaartdijk 60, 2800 Mechelen, Belgium. Phone: +32 [9] 233 50 99 / Fax: +32 [9] 233 35 89 Email:karl.andriessen@pandora.be

DEADLINE: 30 April 2009

De Leo Fund Award honours the memory of Nicola and Vittorio, the beloved children of Professor Diego De Leo, IASP Past President. The Award is offered to distinguished scholars in recognition of their outstanding research on suicidal behaviours carried out in developing countries. Members of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) are invited to nominate suitable persons for the De Leo Fund Award. It is for the person who in the view of the award committee has contributed significantly to developing suicide research in a developing country. Nominees do not necessarily have to be IASP members.

The 3rd Asia Pacific Regional Conference, organised by IASP and the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention at Hong Kong University, was held in Hong Kong from October 31 – November 3, 2008. The photos show dignitaries at the opening ceremony and Mr Peter Lee congratulating Mrs Lakshmi Ratanayake of Sri Lanka on the award she received for good practice in suicide prevention in the Asia Pacific region during the “Peter Lee Gala Dinner”. The 4th Asia Pacific conference will be held in Australia in 2010.

TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE DE LEO FUND AWARD, CANDIDATES SHOULD DEMONSTRATE THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA: •Be born in a developing country; •Have performed their research in a developing country; •Be a young/mid career researcher (no more than 20 years from graduation), with a prevailing interest in research in the field of suicide;•Be able to demonstrate, through publications in internationally indexed journals, their competence in the field of suicide;•Not to be a current nominee for any other IASP Award. DE LEO FUND AWARD CHAIRPERSON:

Prof. Diego De Leo, Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, Griffith University, 176 Messines Ridge Rd, Mt. Gravatt Campus Mt Gravatt QLD 4122, Australia Phone: + 61 7 3735 3377 / Fax: + 61 7 3735 3450 E- mail: D.DeLeo@griffith.edu.au 42nd AAS Annual Conference: A Global Agenda on the Science of Prevention, Treatment, & Recovery April 15 - 18, 2009 Westin St. Francis Hotel San Francisco, CA

SAVE THE DATE! JOIN US IN SAN FRANCISCO FOR: • Skill-enhancing workshops • Cutting-edge research presentations • Best practices in prevention programs • Four full days of content • Over 150 presenters • Invaluable networking opportunities

XXV IASP WORLD CONGRESS MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY 27–31 OCTOBER 2009

For Additional Information: www.suicidology.org • 202-237-2280 • info@suicidology.org

LOTTERY A lottery will be held with the prize FOUR FREE NIGHTS in a double room at the Radisson Hotel during the congress. The winner will be drawn from the first 50 people to complete and register with payment for the congress.

The Second Announcement is now available:

www.iasp.info

XXV IASP WORLD CONGRESS

Please forward, distribute or disseminate this newsletter to others to whom it would be of interest

International Association for Suicide Prevention

The Aeschi Working Group The therapeutic approach to the suicidal patient: New perspectives for health professionals 5th AESCHI CONFERENCE 4.–7. MARCH 2009 Hotel Aeschi Park, Aeschi, Switzerland Special theme: to hospitalize or not to hospitalize?

www.aeschiconference.unibe.ch

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RUARY 200

9

International Association for Suicide Prevention

GREETINGS TO IASP MEMBERS

FROM THE PRESIDENT

Montevideo News and more on Unemployment and Suicide As the deadline for submitting manuscripts for the XXVth IASP World Congress on Suicide Prevention approaches (March 16 2009 is the official deadline) many fascinating proposals are being submitted. Funding has been received for translation of the majority of parallel sessions, as well as all plenary activities. Also, the organizers have some interesting new developments for the social activities during the congress. The Philharmonic Orchestra will be holding a benefit concert for the IASP Congress during the meetings in the historic Teatro Solis, which is directly across the plaza from the congress venue. The beautiful Teatro Solis opened in 1857, but was closed to the public from 1998 to 2004 in order to undertake extensive renovations. The theatre has now been completely restored to its magnificent grandeur and congress participants will be able to purchase tickets for the concert at a reduced rate along with their registration. Although submissions are coming in steadily and there is great interest in the congress, early registrations have only been trickling in (I assume that people are waiting until the deadlines for increased registration fees draw near). This means that there is still the possibility of participating in the lottery for the free hotel room at the Radisson during the congress, with the winner to be chosen from among the first 50 fully paid registrations received.

One of the fringe benefits of being IASP President is the opportunity to try to instigate some discussion on important issues by expressing my opinions in this column. My December column on Suicide and the Economic Depression, raised the ire of a few IASP members who felt that, following what I reported as the “consistent relationship between levels of unemployment and suicidal behaviour‌â€? I should have made a public announcement that the current economic crisis is likely to increase the risk of mental ill health and suicide. I was advised to encourage IASP members to advise their local and national governments on how to mitigate this risk. I wrote that article in the context of a deluge of contacts from journalists who all wanted to write sensational articles about the impending epidemic of suicides immediately following the financial downturn. Many journalists expected that there would be an immediate dramatic increase in suicides and they were poised to feature spectacular articles announcing the suicide epidemic that was about to begin or had already started (I succeeded in convincing one to not proceed and not to run a photograph on the front page of a major US newspaper of a man in a business suit jumping to his death.) My first concern was to avoid the creation of a self fulfilling prophesy - the sensational reporting could produce an effect of increased suicides due to well documented media effects. I did this, despite the findings from Steven Stack's analyses of the impact of publicity about suicides during the Great Depression. He hypothesized that people would be more vulnerable to being influenced by media reports on suicide because of the effect of the economic collapse. However, contrary to his expectations, he found that the media effects that are evident in the latter part of the 20th century were simply not present during the Great Depression. He concluded that "while mass unemployment may have put many members of the suicide audience in a suicidal mood, it also created many movements for social and economic change." "...possibly a considerable portion of the frustration generated by the Great Depression did not get channelled into a suicidal mood, but, instead was channelled into otherdirected aggression in such form as social movements."

I would like to introduce myself as the incoming editor of the IASP Postvention Taskforce Newsletter. As the National Co-ordinator for the StandBy Response Service based at United Synergies Ltd. on Australia's Sunshine Coast, I oversee the replication of the StandBy postvention response model in several Australian sites as well as developing several programmes within the StandBy for LIFE training syllabus. StandBy is a community-based JILL FISHER active postvention programme, providing a 24New editor of the IASP hour co-ordinated response to assist families, Postvention Task Force friends and associates who have been bereaved Newsletter. through suicide. My interest and passion in addressing the needs of suicide survivors has been greatly enhanced by gaining a Masters of Suicidology with the Australian Institute for Suicide Research & Prevention at Griffith University, under the directorship of Professor Diego De Leo. Currently completing a Masters in Health Studies (Grief & Loss) at the University of Queensland, under the previous directorship of Dr. Judith Murray, my future plans include further research into suicide bereavement models of care as well as the impact of media on grief experiences. My work in the areas of crisis and traumatic loss & grief combined with my media background and research experience, has prompted this decision to assist the Postvention Taskforce team in production of the Newsletter. I deeply appreciate the welcome and support given by previous editor Michelle Linn Gust and all members of the Taskforce and take this opportunity to express gratitude to Michelle for her work and dedication in the production of the IASP Postvention Taskforce Newsletter - an invaluable resource for all those involved in this field. Jill Fisher, National Co-ordinator - StandBy Response Service, United Synergies Ltd.,14 Ernest Street, Tewantin, Queensland, Australia 4560, Ph. 61 7 5455 3322 / Mob.61 0458 406 640. Please contact Jill with contributions or comments at jfisher@unitedsynergies.com.au

AWARD TO DR VIJAYAKUMAR The IASP Executive Board and members are delighted to congratulate Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar, long standing member of IASP and national representative for India, on her prestigious award from the Royal College of Pychiatrists Education, Training and Standards Committee in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the profession and to the college. Dr Vijayakumar is the first woman psychiatrist in India to receive this award and only the second Indian psychiatrist to ever win this award.

I hope that the current economic crisis will not eventually result in increased suicides, but history teaches us that increased suicides in many parts of the world are most probably on the horizon. I also hope that governments will increase investments in mental health care and suicide prevention in order to decrease the risk. However, it is my experience, from attempts to influence government leaders in my own country, that governments are more likely to put their money into job creation programmes than increased support for the unemployed. (Perhaps they do not realize that creating jobs for suicide prevention specialists also helps decrease unemployment rates). As researchers, we need to be vigilant. People involved in prevention and intervention need to develop, implement and evaluate programmes to reduce the potential impact of unemployment on mental health and suicide risk. We also need to do our best to avoid sensational media reporting on hypothetical suicide epidemics before they occur. Brian L. Mishara, Ph.D mishara.brian@uqam.ca

President: In official relations with

Please forward, distribute or disseminate this newsletter to others to whom it would be of interest

Prof. Brian Mishara

Vice President:

Prof. Heidi Hjelmeland

Vice President:

Prof. Kees van Heeringen

the World Health Organization

Treasurer:

Prof. Thomas Bronisch

General Secretary:

Assoc. Prof. Annette Beautrais

National Rep:

Dr Murad Khan

Organisational Rep:

Dr Jerry Reed


newsbulletin COUNTRY REPORT SUICIDE IN THE NETHERLANDS

COUNTRY REPORT SUICIDE IN ROMANIA

In 2007 an unexpected and unexplained fall in the number of suicides

Major changes which occured in

occurred in The Netherlands. Suicide figures had been remarkably stable during the last 15 years, oscillating between 1500 and 1550 a year. In 2006 there were 1523 suicides. Suddenly, in 2007, number dropped to 1353, a spectacular decrease of 170 or 11% (the number of railway suicides did not decrease however). This is an unprecedented fall.

Romanian society after the fall of the Iron Curtain, in conjunction with individual consequences generated by fluctuating social values, have led to an intriguing pattern of suicide behavior in Romania.

We do not understand why this happened. Nothing spectacular happened in

Prof. Ad Kerkhof IASP National Representative for the Netherlands

this country in 2007. The only relevant change was the introduction of a new format for the notification of suicides in mental health care to the health care inspectorate. Clinicians and medical directors of mental health care organisations were asked to report each and every case in more detail, focussing on systematic risk assessment and the explicit focus on suicide-ideation in the treatment the patient received. As such the Inspectorate asked the mental health care delivery system to adhere more strictly to the 2003 guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Although this had quite an impact on the field, it seems unlikely that this renewal had such an impact that it could explain the decrease in suicides in The Netherlands. Only in one third of all cases had the patients had mental health care before the suicide. Two thirds were not in contact with mental health care. There are indications that the number of suicides in 2008 were rising again, notably after the financial crisis started.

There are other positive developments promoting suicide prevention. In 2008 the Ministry of Health finally (after 22 years) launched a suicide prevention plan including several measures to improve mental health care, to develop and operate a nationwide 24/7 staffed website and telephonic crisis line especially for suicidal people, to develop and implement a screening instrument for suicidal adolescents, and to develop good practices and clinical guidelines for the assessment and treatment of suicidal patients. Two special teams have been established to develop these guidelines and to develop protocols for the chain of delivery of mental health care for suicidal patients, for example, for care after hospital treatment because of deliberate self harm. Furthermore research grants have been given to interventions for survivors. These are all very promising developments, although for suicidologists the size of the problem is not yet reflected in the size of the measures taken. We will keep you informed about the trends and developments in the near future. IASP National Representative for The Netherlands, Professor Ad Kerkhof, e-mail: ajfm.kerkhof @ psy.vu.nl

Prof. Doina Cozman IASP National Representative for Romania

Romania is located in South-Eastern Europe, has an area of 238,000 square kilometers, 41 counties and the District of Bucharest, and a population of 21.7 million in 2002 - 45% residing in rural settings. It is surrounded by countries with higher suicide rates, such as Hungary, Ukraine, Republic of Moldova, Bulgaria. Suicide rates within the past decade declined to 13.38 suicides per 100,000 population in 2007 from 17.60 in 2000. However, there are significant differences from one county to another and even from one year to another in some counties (Braila, Dolj, Giurgiu, Ilfov). County suicide rates range from less than 10 to more than 25 suicides/100,000. Ethnic composition of specific counties has traditionally influenced suicide rates: counties with a strongly represented Hungarian population (such as Harghita and Covasna) have suicide rates constantly higher than 30/100,000, while counties with more than 95% Romanian population have lower suicide rates. However, dramatic changes have occured in certain Romanian areas. County Salaj reported the highest suicide rate in 1998, followed by a dramatic decrease - from 20.7/100,000 in 2003 to 14 in 2007. Similar trends are evident in counties Tulcea, Satu Mare, Cluj. Conversely, counties Braila, or Dolj, Giurgiu, Ilfov (a small Romanian population and traditionally low suicide rates) reported a strong increase in suicide in 2006. These changes suggest the need for targeted strategies of local assessment, prevention and intervention and an effort to identify the underlying factors, regardless of ethnic background. Romanian mental health professionals can no longer predict suicide patterns and trends strictly based on local ethnic backgrounds, due to the fact that certain Romanian counties with similar underpinning (ethnic distribution and psychopathology) show different patterns of suicide. Therefore, further studies are required in order to ascertain specific local risk and protective factors involved in suicidality, and certain steps in this respect have already been taken by Romania joining a European project on suicide.

XXV IASP WORLD CONGRESS MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY 27–31 OCTOBER 2009

Abstract submission closes on 16th March 2009.

LOTTERY A lottery will be held with the prize FOUR FREE NIGHTS in a double room at the Radisson Hotel during the congress. The winner will be drawn from the first 50 people to complete and register with payment for the congress.

Very early birds registration closes on March 31st. 2009. Please see the website for other important congress dates www.iasp.info

IASP National Representative for Romania, Prof. Doina Cozman e-mail: doina_octaviancosman@hotmail.com; dcosman@umfcluj.ro

Nominations for IASP Awards (the Stengel Research Award, the Ringel Service Award, the Faberow Award for contributions to work with survivors of suicide, and De Leo Fund Award for outstanding suicide research conducted in developing countries) close on April 30 2009. For more details please see the January 2009 newsletter or the Awards announcement on the IASP website

www.iasp.info

42nd AAS Annual Conference: A Global Agenda on the Science of Prevention, Treatment, & Recovery April 15 - 18, 2009 Westin St. Francis Hotel San Francisco, CA For Additional Information: www.suicidology.org • 202-237-2280 • info@suicidology.org

XXV IASP WORLD CONGRESS

International Association for Suicide Prevention

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MA

RCH 2009

International Association for Suicide Prevention Dear all,

We all could not understand what happened as FROM THE PRESIDENT

our friend and great man Prof. Andrej Marusic passed away. We all know what a powerful and dynamic scientist he was, and I am sure that he would be very happy to see that his IASP Task Force on Genetics will continue to be active in the future.

Montevideo deadline extended

I was very much honored to be invited to act as

The deadline for submitting proposals for presentations at the XXV

the new chair of this task force, and would like to thank all people responsible for this!

World Congress on Suicide Prevention of IASP in Montevideo, 27–31 October 2009, has been extended until 10 April 2009. If you are planning to attend and submit a proposal, you have a bit more time. Early bird registrations are coming in and we are impressed by the number of interesting proposals received to date.

Beijing WHO Collaborating Center for Research and Training in Suicide Prevention

On the 6th to 9th of March 2009 the Beijing Suicide Research and Prevention Center held an inaugural academic meeting and training course to highlight their designation as a World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Research and Training in Suicide Prevention, the first WHO collaborating center on suicide in a middle and low income country. This event, attended by Dr. Benedetto Saraceno, Director of the WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, included scientific presentations by several prominent researchers from around the world, as well as an impressive number of papers by Chinese researchers and practitioners. The IASP President was there to speak, along with several IASP members, including Annette Beautrais, Mort Silverman, Lanny Berman, Lakshmi Vijayakumar, Lars Mehlum, David Gunnell, Paul Yip, Gustavo Turecki, Armin Schmidtke and Greg Larkin. The WHO collaborating center status recognizes the many accomplishments of the center since its founding in 2002. The Beijing Suicide Research and Prevention Center is a department of Beijing Hui Long Guan Hospital, which is administered by the Beijing Bureau of Health. Since its establishment, the center has undertaken many international and domestic research projects. It has devised a China-specific methodology for studying suicide, developed culturally sensitive research instruments, and conducted several training programs on research methodology and psychological interventions.

The center's Executive Director, Michael Phillips is actively involved in IASP and his center's research activities include 19 major projects, ranging from a pesticide-control project to case controlled studies of serious suicide attempters seen in hospital. Besides their numerous research activities, the center runs a national toll free 24 hour Psychological Crisis Hotline, offers outpatient and inpatient services to suicidal individuals, and provides individual and group support services for survivors, and website information and counselling. Michael Phillips is the China National Representative for IASP and vice-chair of the IASP Council of National Representatives. The status as a WHO Collaborating Center will help Michael and his 88 colleagues work to achieve their goal of reducing the huge economic and social burden of suicide in China, the rest of Asia and around the word. Brian L. Mishara, Ph.D mishara.brian@uqam.ca

We plan to create a

W will do my best to continue the successful activities of this Task Force, and would like to invite IASP members who are interested in joining this task force to contact me.

The major goals will be to promote studies of genetic aspects of suicide ideation and behaviour among suicidologists on one side, and to promote genetic studies of suicide ideation and behaviour among behavioural geneticists on the other; thus forming an independent discipline of genetic suicidology.

Prof. Dan Rujescu Chair of the Genetics Task Force

forum on the IASP website where members of the Task Force will present new interesting papers on genetics and suicidal behavior and will stimulate discussions open to the whole audience.

Furthermore we will organize a workshop of the Task Force during IASP meetings to show progress and meet each other to discuss new developments. I hope that many IASP members will join us! Best wishes, Dan Rujescu Dan.Rujescu@med.uni-muenchen.de

SRI LANKA SUMITHRAYO Sri Lanka Sumithrayo was founded in 1974 by Joan de Mel an ex-Samaritan from London. It is the only organisation in Sri Lanka whose primary objective is the prevention of suicide. Sumithrayo was set up in response to a rapidly increasing rate of suicide in the country: A 227% increase in suicide rates, from 9.7/100,000 in 1961 to 22/100,000 by 1973. The first of the Sumithrayo Crisis Intervention Centres/Befriending Centres was opened in Colombo in 1974 and now there are eleven Befriending Centres island-wide.

The meagre statistics that were available to Sumithrayo in the early 1980's suggested that approximately 25% of all suicides were alcohol-related. Judging from people who contacted Sumithrayo for help it was felt that alcohol and other drug dependencies were major problems, especially amongst males. The Sumithrayo Drug Demand Reduction Programme was set up in 1984 in Colombo to address this situation.

The steady rise in rates of suicide in the 1960's coincided with the widespread use of agro-chemicals in the country. In 1995 the suicide rates peaked at 47/100,000, one of the highest in the world. Since then suicide rates have gradually decreased and by 2008 the rate was 20/100,000. Since the early 1960's, the most common method of suicide has been the ingestion of agricultural poisons. President:

In official relations with

This Task Force will provide a place where scientists interested in genetics of suicidal behavior can easily getin contact with each other, can cooperate and stimulate the whole field with new studies and results.

Prof. Brian Mishara

Vice President:

Prof. Heidi Hjelmeland

Vice President:

Prof. Kees van Heeringen

the World Health Organization

The high rate of suicide, especially in rural areas, can be directly linked to the availability of these chemicals in village homes.

The Sumithrayo Rural Programme was set up Lakshmi Ratanayeke in 1996 in an effort to contain the very high rates of suicide and attempted suicide in farming communities where agro-chemicals are used in most acts of self harm and suicide. The programme presently operates in 72 of the most suicide-prone villages in two of the four most suicide-prone provinces in the country: the North Western and the Southern provinces. Many of these villages are in very remote areas, not easily accessible by road. The Sumithrayo are experimenting with a threepronged effort to contain the problem of suicidal behaviour in villages: 1). Awareness and Education; 2). Befriending, the offer of emotional support to the depressed and despairing; 3). Provision of lockable secure storage boxes to farming families for safely storing pesticides and other household poisons.

Treasurer:

Prof. Thomas Bronisch

General Secretary:

Assoc. Prof. Annette Beautrais

National Rep:

Dr Murad Khan

Organisational Rep:

Dr Jerry Reed


newsbulletin COUNTRY REPORT

SUICIDE PREVENTION ACTIVITIES IN DENMARK

Nominations for

World Suicide Prevention Day

(the Stengel Research Award, the Ringel Service Award, the Faberow Award for contributions to work with survivors of suicide, and De Leo Fund Award for outstanding suicide research conducted in developing countries) close on April 30, 2009. Nominations are open and details are available from the website: www.iasp.info

Each year, on 10th September, the Danish Association for Research and Education in Suicide Prevention organises World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) in Denmark, together with Lifeline Denmark and the Psychiatry Foundation. In 2006 WSPD focused on male suicides, in 2007 on suicides among the elderly, in 2008 suicide in mental illness, and in 2009, will focus on suicidal behaviour among young women.

In association with WSPD, we announce the winner of the Werther Award, an award given to a person who has contributed at a societal level with useful and sober information about suicide. The board deciding who should win the award is constituted of representatives from the Danish Association for Research and Education in Suicide Prevention, the Organization of Bereaved after Suicide, and Danish Journalists Association. National network for suicide prevention centres in Denmark

We have five suicide prevention centres, and they have a common network meeting annually. At the 2008 meeting, the centres agreed to produce a common white paper about the activities and duties for regional competence centres for suicide prevention, which could serve as the background for application for grants.

Telephone and e-mail counseling

Several national NGO's are involved in telephone and e-mail counseling. The largest organization is Life-line Denmark.

Research

Prof. Merete Nordentoft

IASP National Representative for Denmark

In Denmark, we have a long tradition for registerbased suicide research. In 2007, two report based dissertations were accepted and defended at the University of Copenhagen. One dissertation was about suicide risk and treatment with antidepressant treatment, the other suicide prevention and attempted suicide in Denmark.

Awards

Please note the new Criteria for the Stengel Award: “Outstanding and active researcher with at least 10 years of scientific activity in the field, as evidenced by number and quality of publications in internationally acknowledged journals”.

Please send any news items, articles of interest or conference announcements for the monthly news bulletin to the editor, Dr Annette Beautrais: annette.beautrais@otago.ac.nz

Besides the dissertations, a range of papers regarding risk factors for suicide and attempted suicide in different groups have been published in high impact journals. Two ongoing, yet unpublished, studies are evaluating the effect of assertive intervention after suicide attempt in a randomized controlled design. Results will be published in the years to come. IASP national representative, Professor Merete Nordentoft, merete.nordentoft@dadlnet.dk

XXV IASP WORLD CONGRESS MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY 27–31 OCTOBER 2009

The social program will include a symphony concert at the newly restored 150 year old

Teatro Solis

THE 2ND AUSTRALIAN POSTVENTION CONFERENCE 21st - 23rd May 2009 Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre, Australia This conference “Connectedness - A Link to Hope” provides a wonderful opportunity for delegates throughout Australia and New Zealand to network and share together their experience and knowledge. The conference will bring together family and friends who have been bereaved by suicide; the indigenous, teachers, young people, mental health professionals, general practitioners and medical personnel, clergy, emergency services, researchers, service providers and funeral service personnel. International and Australian presenters include Prof Ian Webster, Prof Graham Martin, Dr Judith Murray, Dr Sheila Clark, Dr Frank Campbell, Dr Michelle Linn-Gust, Dr Kari Dyregrov, Dr Scott Poland, Prof Onja Grad and Darrell Henry. Further details at the conference website: www.hotelnetwork.com.au or www.suicideprevention.salvos.org.au

The Nobel Conference: The Role of Genetics in Promoting Suicide Prevention June 8-10 2009 - Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract submission closes on 10th April 2009. Very early birds registration closes on March 31st. 2009. Please see the website for other important congress dates www.iasp.info

XXV IASP WORLD CONGRESS

Registration is free. To register contact Tony Durkee (tony.durkee@ki.se) or Gergö Hadlaczky (gergo.hadlaczky@ki.se). Conference program: http://ki.se/content/1/c6/06/86/11/Program% 20 Nobel %20Conference%20June%208-10%202009.pdf

42nd AAS Annual Conference: A Global Agenda on the Science of Prevention, Treatment, & Recovery April 15 - 18, 2009 Westin St. Francis Hotel San Francisco, CA For Additional Information: www.suicidology.org • 202-237-2280 • info@suicidology.org

International Association for Suicide Prevention

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FROM THE PRESIDENT

UGANDA

A wave of suicides/homicide in Uganda Uganda, a developing country (GNP per capita $279) in Eastern Africa, is

Benefits and Harm from the Internet A

s the Internet expands as the primary source of information around the world, increasing numbers of people in a suicidal crisis search the net for psychological help and emotional support. However, others look to the Internet for information and encouragement in ending their lives. Although there are no reliable data available, there are frequent reports of people who die using methods found on the Internet, as well as people who died after cyber-encouragement to proceed with a suicide plan. In this context, it is important to ask what role IASP can and should play in terms of its mandate to promote suicide prevention around the world.

Perhaps, the first challenge is to specify the purpose and content of the IASP web site. The traditional role of the site has been to provide information to IASP members and the general public on IASP activities. The new IASP site is in the process of development and the focus has been to first provide a user friendly showcase and repository of information on IASP activities. However, we also provide links to resources to obtain help for people who are suicidal or bereaved by suicide. This is essential, since many visitors to the site are either suicidal, know someone who is considering suicide or are bereaved by suicide. As we begin to provide links to information on suicide and postvention, we realize that the demand is enormous and that it is a very time consuming task to determine which of the many sites should be recommended on our site. It is an impossible task to visit and evaluate the pertinence of all suicide prevention resources on the web. Also, it would not be useful to provide so many links to information of varying quality that someone seeking help on our site does not easily find the help they need. Whenever we suggest a link to a resource we implicitly “approve” of the site content being useful, despite any disclaimers we may provide when visitors leave our site to follow a link. The current challenge facing IASP is to provide essential help to site visitors without draining our limited resources in evaluating, selecting and monitoring sites chosen from the many thousands of potential web sites around the world.

A second challenge is what to do, if anything, about sites that incite, encourage or provide “how to do it”

surrounded to the north by Sudan, to the east by Kenya, to the west by Democratic Republic of Congo, and to the south by both Rwanda and Tanzania. Most (85%) of its 30 million people live in rural areas where the main source of income is peasant agriculture. The country does not routinely collect suicide data, but from an ongoing MOH/WHO study in war-affected Northern Uganda a crude suicide rate of between 20.0-15.0/100,000 (2005-7) has been estimated.

In a pattern that began last year and continues into this year, Uganda is experiencing a wave of suicides, usually combined with homicides, reported from all over the country. These suicides are reported across all strata of the population: the urban; the rural; those from war affected communities; professional groups such as the army and the police; and patient groups such as persons living with HIV/AIDS. The suicide/homicide account that most caught the attention of the country occurred on the 1st August 2008 when Marion, a young mother of three from one of the suburbs of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, killed all her three children aged four, three and one and half years and later attempted to commit suicide by drinking poison. The issues that appeared to underlie this tragedy included: urban poverty; loneliness and lack of social support in the impersonal world of a big urban centre; marital friction and threats of divorce by the husband over her inability to give him male children. In response to this wave of suicide/homicide the Mental Health Division of the Ministry of Health of Uganda put together a task force to develop a communication response to educate members of the general public about this problem. At a one day workshop a fact sheet with key messages about the problem of suicide and homicide was developed and later shared with the media at a press conference at the Ministry of Health headquarters on the 8th August 2008. The media engaged members of the task force in a lively discussion and carried excerpts from the fact sheet and the press conference in both electronic and print media during the following days.

information on suicide. As the President of IASP I often receive letters asking that IASP “do something about” a site that they feel is dangerous. One poignant email arrived from a father who was convinced that his son would not have killed himself if he had not been encouraged to commit suicide during an online chat. As I have written elsewhere (Mishara & Weisstub, 2007), any attempt at control or censorship of the Internet must be considered in the perspective of rights to freedom of expression and the reality that repressive measures are generally impossible to enforce. Still, IASP could potentially take a public stand or adopt policies to encourage policies to limit internet content that encourages suicide. We could also develop or incite others to develop pro-active monitoring of potentially dangerous sites and to join in on chats and internet forums where suicide is encouraged in order to provide support and references to prevent suicides.

IASP National Representative for Uganda, Dr Eugene Kinyanda, email: ekinyanda@hotmail.com

I

ASP and its members must decide where to focus their limited resources and we must all decide where to invest our energy in suicide prevention activities. There are many interesting areas where we may want to expand our internet presence. One possibility is to provide resources in languages that are not well served by suicide prevention activities. However, at the present time we rely upon volunteers to translate our web site content, with a moderate success. We must also decide how to handle emails received. I believe that people in crisis or in a desperate situation benefit most from a personalized response, even if the response is to refer the person to other resources. However, whenever I answer requests for help I wonder if, by doing so, I am encouraging more people to write, and at some point I, or others in the organization, will simply be overwhelmed by the demand.

Dr Eugene Kinyanda and others

A

friend who works in the field of Artificial Intelligence has insisted that a sophisticated computer programme can respond to all requests in a warm empathetic manner, and that this is the best way to help many people and provide personalised referrals. I have played with some experimental programmes and often it is difficult to believe that the kind and caring response is computer generated. But, occasionally the computer gets it wrong. My friend says this is just a “bug” that needs sorting - and the final version would be better than most human replies. It certainly is tempting, but I have what my friend views as an “irrational” concern, that real human contact is (or at least should be) what is warranted. Your personal (not computer generated) comments are welcome. Brian L. Mishara, Ph.D mishara.brian@uqam.ca Reference: Mishara, B. L. & Weisstub, D.N. (2007) Ethical, Legal and Practical Issues in the Control and Regulation of Suicide Promotion and Assistance over the Internet. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. 37(1), 58-65.

President: In official relations with

Nominations for

Awards

Stengel Research Award, the Ringel Service Award, the Faberow Award for contributions to work with survivors of suicide, and De Leo Fund Award for outstanding suicide research conducted in developing countries

- DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO JUNE 15, 2009 Nominations are open and details are available from the website: www.iasp.info

Prof. Brian Mishara

Vice President:

Prof. Heidi Hjelmeland

Vice President:

Prof. Kees van Heeringen

the World Health Organization

Treasurer:

Prof. Thomas Bronisch

General Secretary:

Assoc. Prof. Annette Beautrais

National Rep:

Dr Murad Khan

Organisational Rep:

Dr Jerry Reed


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Edwin S. Shneidman, founding president of The American Association of Suicidology, dies at 91 On May 15, 2009, Dr. Edwin S. Shneidman died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles. Dr. Shneidman, a member of IASP and founding president of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS), had just celebrated his 91st birthday. He is survived by four sons, six grandchildren. His beloved wife, Jeanne, died in 2001.

Dr. Shneidman had a profound influence on the field of Suicidology (a neologism he coined), and on untold numbers of suicidologists whom he mentored, stimulated intellectually, and seduced to the study and prevention of suicide. While working as a Ph.D. psycho-logist for the Veterans Administration in 1949, he serendipitously came across a trove of suicide notes at the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office and immediately envisioned a case-control research study comparing real versus simulated notes to help better understand the minds of those that died by suicide. A lifelong career in the study of suicide followed.

With his colleague and past-IASP president, Dr. Norman Farberow, he co-founded the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center (LASPC) in 1958, which, with the addition of Robert Litman as psychiatric director, became a model for all centers to follow and a Mecca for training future leaders in the field. While there, and under contract to the LA Coroner's Office, procedures were developed to investigate retrospectively a decedent's contribution to their own death, the psychological autopsy, a method now indelibly etched into the armamentarium of research and forensic suicidologists worldwide and which has been singularly responsible for differentially defining risk factors for suicide through case-control research studies. The LASPC's psychological autopsy of the sensational and sudden death of actress Marilyn Monroe in the summer of1962 led to a surge in calls to the Center (and international renown for the LASPC) and the need for significant numbers of people to handle the influx. Shneidman pioneered and championed the role and importance of using trained lay volunteers to provide help to suicidal callers -- the use of volunteers has since become the staple of crisis intervention services world-wide. Starting in 1963, the LASPC became the first suicide prevention center in the world to offer 24-hour help to callers. Dr. Shneidman left the LASPC in 1966 when he was asked to become the first director of the Center for Studies of Suicide Prevention at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). While there, he convened a convened a conference in Chicago in the spring of 1968, bringing together a heterogeneous group of international scholars interested in the study of suicide, who, came to consensus that there was a dire need for a national organization for suicide prevention. By the close of that meeting, the AAS was founded. The Center's initial publication, the Bulletin of Suicidology (1968-1971), was the forerunner to the AAS's journal Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior (SLTB), which Shneidman founded in 1971 and edited until 1981. In his brief tenure at the NIMH, the number of suicide prevention centers in the United States, more than tripled. As a visiting professor at Harvard University in 1969, he befriended psychiatrist-psychologist Henry Murray, whose work on the classification of human needs later inspired Shneidman to develop “ten commonalities of suicide,” Later in 1969, Dr. Shneidman returned to California to become a fellow at the

Center for Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. The following year he accepted an offer to become a tenured professor in medical psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). In 1975 he became UCLA's first Professor of Thanatology. Over the next decade he would spend sabbatical time at the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm and as a visiting professor of thanatology at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.

Dr. Shneidman was a prolific writer, authoring or editing some 20 books. His1974 work, Deaths of Man, was a finalist for a National Book Award. His last, A Commonsense Book of Death (Oxford), was published last year commensurate with his 90th birthday. His career is marked by many honors and awards including the American Psychological Association's award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Public Service, the AAS's Louis I. Dublin Award for a career of outstanding service and contributions to the field of Suicidology (1972), and UCLA's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science's Outstanding Senior Faculty Award in 1992. In May 2005, Marian College awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Letters and announced the creation of the Edwin S. Shneidman Program in Thanatology. He, perhaps, felt most honored to have an annual award for young contributors given out in his name by the AAS. Dr. Shneidman's was a Herman Melville scholar and saw, in Melville's writings, especially in his classic Moby Dick, a plethora of metaphors about suicide. He built a significant collection of Melville memorabilia, now contributed to and displayed as The Edwin S. Shneidman and David W. Shneidman Collection of Herman Melville at UCLA. The collection includes around 160 volumes, many first edition books, as well as biographies of Melville. Dr. Shneidman arguably had the largest (and perhaps the only) collection of whale-imprinted ties, which he wore practically daily. Dr. Shneidman was a towering intellect, a brilliant theoretician and clinician, and a fervent spokesperson for the empathic understanding of the psychological pain of those suicidal. He coined the phrase psychache to capture the hurt, anguish, and psychological pain in the minds of the suicidal. His theories, writings, and presentations rejected reductionistic efforts to understand suicide as simply a consequence of our genes or of depression and implored clinicians to understand the psychological needs of those at risk for suicide and the unbearability of their psychological pain. He suggested that clinicians needed to ask but two questions: “Where do you hurt?” and “How may I help you?” He coined the word postvention to describe activities to help those bereaved by a suicide of a loved one, and promoted the inclusion of survivors in efforts to prevent suicide.

He delighted in the use of a turn of a phrase, a bon mot, a subtle ribaldry, or an oxymoron to capture attention to his theories and his clinical insights. Accordingly, his autobiography, published in 1989 by Brooks/Cole, was entitled A Life in Death.

Suicidology has lost its founder and, to his last days, its most ardent champion.His passing will be deeply mourned. Dr Lanny Berman, Executive Director, American Association of Suicidology

International Association for Suicide Prevention

Edwin S. Shneidman 1918 - 2009 Edwin S. Shneidman died aged 91 on May 15, 2009 in his home in West Los Angeles. Despite his age he never lost the spirit of a researcher and a thinker. He was always prolific with ideas and suggestions and unfaltering in fueling the development of suicidology. I spoke with him two days before his death, on his birthday, and he confessed that it was the end but actually found the words to thank me and say goodbye. Despite his “Waiting for death” as he stated, he conserved his scientific interested in the end of life process, indefatigably exploring it. He admitted that every so often he wished to be dead but also asked me recently “'Please continue phoning me, you keep me alive in this way”. He was so in love with life that it seemed that he had to convince himself that such passion must set the pace for death. He wrote in 1973 “Death while it might be explored, can never be fully charted”. Ed. has been a friend and mentor for a number of years. Despite a big generation gap, we got acquainted and developed a mutual sincere interest. He was always kind, sweet, polite, and articulate as well as kindly severe for things of which he did didn’t approve. His dedications to me in letters and books are really precious drops of his enormous wisdom that I will never forget. When meeting him in Los Angeles last year I found a man filled with memories and reminiscences of all kinds. I discovered a truly beautiful human being who was grateful for what life had given to him. His house was full of collections related to his great love for his family and for his beloved wife as well as with signs of his interest for Melville and Murray. During the conversation you could appreciate the emotions of a sensible man who became excited by simple things. He always stressed the need to include a mentalistic approach when trying to understand suicide. His was the view of a person who never gave up the mission to ameliorate the psychological drama occurring in suicidal individuals. Suicidology has lost a charismatic figure who shaped the world’s view of suicide over the past decades. Everyone involved in suicide prevention is united in paying tribute to this man and his tremendous achievements. Maurizio Pompili, MD, PhD , IASP National Representative for Italy - maurizio.pompili@uniroma1.it

We are deeply indebted to Dr Lanny Berman, Executive Director of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) (founded by Dr Shneidman) for providing this obituary, and to Dr Maurizio Pompili, IASP National Representative for Italy and recipient of the 2008 AAS Shneidman Award for suicide research for his sharing his memories of his friend and mentor Dr Shneidman.

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COUNTRY REPORT MALAYSIA Malaysia is a small country of 26 million people from diverse ethnic and social backgrounds. Situated at the southern tip of the Asian mainland, it has historically received major socio-cultural inputs from the Middle East, South Asia and the Far East. Two major developments have taken place on the suicide prevention scene in Malaysia in the past 2 years. The first is the setting up of the National Suicide Register in 2007. The second is the formation of a Task Force (Working Group) to work towards implementing a National Suicide Prevention Program.

National Suicide Register (NSR) Malaysian suicide statistics are woefully inadequate. Most suicides appear to be misclassified as deaths due to undetermined causes. To rectify this, the Department of Psychiatry of the Kuala Lumpur Hospital with the collaboration from the Universities and the relevant divisions of the Malaysian Ministry of Health has initiated the NSR. It is an ambitious project because it seeks eventually to cover all hospitals in Malaysia involving all forensic pathology departments which conduct autopsies on all unnatural deaths. Forensic department staff are trained to interview relatives and review all available data so that suicides will not be misclassified as accidental deaths or as deaths due to undetermined causes.

The first report covering the last 6 months of 2007 has been released. Though it is not complete (only some of the states

returned the requisite data) and there are still teething problems, it makes interesting reading. For example, men and women chose equally lethal methods of committing suicide. Suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning (car exhaust fumes) is almost exclusively employed by the Chinese. This may have something to do with the fact that Chinese news media have in the past given extensive coverage to suicides by this method. My colleagues are currently working on collecting data on the reporting pattern of Chinese newspapers and their possible effect on the choice of method of suicide among Malaysian Chinese.

We hope the 2008 data will be out soon and will be more complete so that we may have reliable statistics that will enable us to plan prevention activities in a more informed way. We hope the initiators of this project will be able to present these data soon.

National Suicide Prevention Plan (NSPP)

In 2004 we held a workshop on Formulating a National Suicide Prevention Plan. Implementing the program has taken a long time and in 2007 through 2008 the Working Group set up by the Ministry of Health (MOH) has been working hard to bring this to fruition. The NSR will complement this effort by providing timely and useful data. The WHO has agreed to fund a Consultant to advise the MOH on the implementation of this program. We are currently waiting for

the funds to be released and a Consultant has been identified. The Consultant will help finalize the Suicide Prevention Plan of Action, conduct Train the Trainers Workshops, and be involved in related activities. We hope by the end of 2009 that, at long last, a viable program will be in place. This is always difficult in developing countries where so many health issues are priorities. Further, in the prevailing economic climate public funding for new programs is bound to be restricted. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that the NSPP will eventually succeed in reducing suicides in this country.

World Suicide Prevention Day

The WSPD in 2008 was observed in a rather low key way because of budgetary problems. A pharmaceutical firm sponsored a press conference with mainly the print media with a fair amount of public exposure and education about suicide.

I hope to share more detailed information about progress in these activities at the IASP Congress in Montevideo in October. Prof Maniam Thambu, email: tmaniam@yahoo.com

Prof Maniam Thambu,

IASP National Representative for Malaysia

IASP HONORS BEHIND-THE-SCENES CONTRIBUTORS We are very pleased to introduce to you in the next few months some of the people who work behind the scenes for IASP.

Ellen Jepson is the person who does a magnificent job converting internationally-sourced assorted items of information into the well-designed IASP news bulletin each month. Ellen works from home, in the countryside outside Stavanger, Norway. A graphic designer and illustrator, her work consists of designing brochures, posters, logos, books and maps for various institutions, museums, papers and private firms. She came to IASP via her work with Norwegian psychiatrist Gerd-Ragna Bloch Thorsen, designing and illustrating brochures about mental illnesses for patients, their families and the public. As well as the layout for the IASP news bulletin she prepares the layout for "Suicidology" (a magazine published 3 times a year by the Norwegian National

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XXV IASP WORLD CONGRESS MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY 27–31 OCTOBER 2009

Centre for Suicide Prevention) and the magazine published by ISPS (The International Society for the Psychological treatments of the Schizophrenias and other Psychoses). Ellen finds her suicide-related work very interesting and rewarding, bringing her into contact with all those people who, in various ways are involved with suicide prevention work, and for whom she has great respect and admiration. Outside work, she has two grown-up children, Susanne and Magnus, plays golf - often with her English husband, is on the board of a regional nature preserve organization, and spends time with her two horses, a little flock of sheep, various cats, free range hens and rabbits.

C O N F E R E N C E S

Please send any news items, articles of interest or conference announcements for the monthly news bulletin to the editor, Dr Annette Beautrais: annette.beautrais@otago.ac.nz

The social program will include a symphony concert at the newly restored 150 year old

Teatro Solis

The Nobel Conference: The Role of Genetics in Promoting Suicide Prevention June 8-10 2009 - Stockholm, Sweden Registration is free. To register contact Tony Durkee (tony.durkee@ki.se) or GergĂś Hadlaczky (gergo.hadlaczky@ki.se). Conference program: http://ki.se/content/1/c6/06/86/11/ Program%20 Nobel %20Conference%20June%20810%202009.pdf

Abstract submission closed on 10th April 2009. Very early birds registration closed on March 31st. 2009.

Please see the website for other important congress dates

www.iasp.info

XXV IASP WORLD CONGRESS

International Association for Suicide Prevention

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FROM THE PRESIDENT Montevideo Congress Update; Suicide and working with WHO

ORGANIZATIONAL MEMBERS OF IASP SNEHA INDIA Sneha, started operations in Chennai, South India in the summer of April 1986.

Montevideo Congress

A founding member of Befrienders India and a member of IASP, Sneha has introduced many innovative suicide prevention programs in the Indian context. Manned by 50 trained volunteers, Sneha offers befriending services 24hrs over the phone, from 8.00a.m to 10.p.m for visits, and through letters and email.

The large number of presentations submitted for the 2009 IASP World Congress

Sneha had the distinction of being the first NGO to host the Biennial Conference of the International

in Montevideo has resulted in some delays in finalizing the programme. Over 450 submissions were received and evaluated by the Scientific Committee. Final decisions will be sent out by the end of June. The deadline for reduced registration fees will be extended for all persons who submitted a proposal until July 15. Others should register by June 30 to obtain the reduced registration fees. I highly recommend including with your registration tickets for the optional Philharmonic Orchestra Concert in the newly renovated historic Solis Theatre. All proceeds will go to IASP and the local organizers, the Montevideo helpline Ultimo Recourso.

WHO Activities

Suicide prevention has recently been included as a priority as part of the mhGAP (mental health Gap Action Programme) initiative of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse of the World Health Organization. This programme aims at improving mental health services in low and middle income countries by “scaling up” care for mental, neurological and substance abuse disorders. The “evidence based” suicide prevention activities that WHO will promote in this initiative are: Restriction of access to common methods of suicide and the prevention and treatment of depression, and alcohol and drug dependence. These are certainly laudable activities. Nonetheless, there are many other components to a complete national suicide prevention strategy, as indicated in guidelines for national strategies published by WHO.

IASP is the only suicide prevention organization in Official Relations with WHO. The IASP President met in May to discuss collaborative projects with the Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Dr. Benedetto Saraceno, and the other key WHO personnel involved in suicide prevention. WHO has officially agreed to co-sponsor World Suicide Prevention Day again in 2009, and we are hoping to be able to arrange a launch event on the 10th of September, possibly at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. I will update you on this in the coming month. We will continue with the successful joint IASP-WHO guidelines publications, developed by IASP Task Forces, and we plan to collaborate in several other initiatives. A new collaborative initiative that was discussed was to work together toward decriminalizing suicidal behaviours in countries where suicide attempts are still considered to be a criminal offense. For a variety of reasons, which were explained to me as being mostly administrative and related to internal considerations, WHO has cancelled their formal agreement with IASP to collaborate on an initiative in the prevention of pesticide suicides. Dr Saraceno explained that WHO will continue with the project, which involves funding of three pilot programmes run by IASP members in China, India and Sri Lanka. At WHO, as in many parts of the world, suicide has been considered as primarily a problem that is the purview of their Mental Health Division. WHO also has a Department of Injury and Violence Prevention. Although the World Report on Violence and Health (2002) clearly indicates that that suicidal behaviours (“self-directed violence”) constitute the most common category of violent injuries and account for the most burden of violent injuries worldwide, WHO violence prevention activities focus almost exclusively on interpersonal violence. To date, the international Violence Prevention Alliance that WHO has developed has given little attention to self-directed violence. IASP has representatives in this alliance and we hope that suicidal behaviours will receive more attention in the future. Brian L. Mishara, Ph.D mishara.brian@uqam.ca

Association for Suicide Prevention from 22nd - 26th September 2001 which was co-sponsored by the World Health Organisation. Over four hundred luminaries from the fields of Medicine, Psychiatry, Psychology and Social Work, hailing from 22 countries participated in the conference, which was held in Asia for the first time.

Sneha has taken the lead in evolving a National Framework for India on Suicide Prevention Strategy. A draft for this framework was prepared and presented to India's Minister for Health and Family Welfare in October 2006 and we were successful in incorporating suicide prevention in the National Mental Health Policy.

Farmers committing suicide through the use of pesticides has been a burning national concern in the last decade. Sneha and The Centre for Suicide Research, University of Oxford, organized a National Review of Pesticide Suicides supported by Syngenta, with participation of representatives from the fields of medicine, mental health, social research and development and industry. Several strategies to effectively curtail the occurrence of suicides were identified and Sneha is currently involved in one of the major recommendations - promoting community storage for pesticides. Seeking the decriminalization of suicide to enable proper medical care and provision of service to the victim is the most recent initiative of Sneha. Advocating the repealing of Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code which defines attempt to commit suicide as a criminal offense, Sneha has drawn support from the Chairman of the Law Commission of India. Sneha has been instrumental in promoting the World Suicide Prevention Day in India.

Over the years Sneha has offered many outreach programs targeting specific groups that need intervention: Schools: Every year the stress of parental expectations and increased competition create enormous stress for students approaching their school leaving board examinations. Our school outreach programs are run through the early part of the academic year to educate students on Coping with Stress. From 2001, Sneha has ensured round the clock services to students and parents under stress during the run up to the examinations and in the period when results are declared. Self-help Groups: Women's self-help groups are a growing instrument for social and financial empowerment of women. The suicide statistics show that young women in the under 30 age group at greater risk in India. Awareness workshops for these groups have been conducted since 2003. Tsunami: Training Programs were conducted for field workers and others involved in relief. Our volunteers were asked to help prepare training manuals for UNDP, UNICEF and WHO on training volunteers and relief workers during disasters. Interventions were specifically designed for children affected by tsunami and for the bereaved family members. The interventions and the evaluations have been published in international journals. We have conducted workshops for students, nurses, media, general practitioners, police personnel, refugees and other NGO's. Sneha has not restricted its suicide prevention activities by functioning just as a crisis centre, but also has taken a lead in raising awareness about suicide prevention in all sections of the society. Its advocacy and intervention programmes have also been well recognized. Sneha has emerged as a flagship organization for suicide prevention in India. REPORT PREPARED BY DR LAKSHMI VIYAJAKUMAR

Reports and news items for the IASP bulletin are sought from other organizational members. Please send to Dr Annette Beautrais: annette.beautrais@yale.edu

President: In official relations with

Lakshmi Viyajakumar

Prof. Brian Mishara

Vice President:

Prof. Heidi Hjelmeland

Vice President:

Prof. Kees van Heeringen

the World Health Organization

Treasurer:

Prof. Thomas Bronisch

General Secretary:

Assoc. Prof. Annette Beautrais

National Rep:

Dr Murad Khan

Organisational Rep:

Dr Jerry Reed


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COUNTRY REPORTS Suicide prevention activities in indonesia Indonesia, as the largest Moslem population in the world (86% of the total 220 million population), has a serious Dr. A. Prayitno problem in preventing suicide, IASP National Repreespecially in the face of religious sentative for Indonesia denials of expressions of suicidal ideation, depression and other mental disorders. Religious proscriptions against suicide are very strong: In Islam suicide is a sin, more condemmed than killing. Suicide is reported more frequently among non-Islamics, and amongst those of Chinese and Indian descent.

After the tsunami disaster in Aceh on December 2004, it was considered that mental disorders might affect as many as one in eight of the population of the devastated province. Benedetto Saraceno, Director of WHO's Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse warned that suicides might be expected to increase in the aftermath of the disaster. He suggested that two things needed to be done: Firstly, to train community leaders, women and people rooted in the community; Secondly, to strenghthen health sectors in Aceh, where, at the time, there were only five psychiatrists. As a National Representative of IASP since 1984, I always try to promote the IASP message, especially on World Suicide Prevention Day, to the government, professionals (especially psychiatrists), community leaders, and mass media. I publish, via seven prominent national newspapers, IASP's WSPD message, informing readers and increasing awareness of suicide prevention. I also give presentations on suicide prevention, and speak at scientific meeting and congresses about the importance of suicidal behavior. In addition, press conferences and seminars are held by the Indonesian Psychiatric Assosiation in big cities like Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan, Yogyakarta, Solo, Macassar and Den Pasar (Bali) on

WSPD to promote knowledge of suicide prevention for health professionals and community leaders. In April 2009 the Indonesian Psychiatric Assosiation held a National Seminar on Suicide Prevention in Surabaya, the first suicide prevention seminar to be held in Indonesia. Hopefully, in the future, psychiatrists will work more actively with all professionals allied to mental health, government and community leaders to prevent suicide. The Ministry of Health, sponsored by WHO, published a technical manual on suicide prevention for health professionals in 2007. I contributed to this, and local doctors working at primary health centers with a high prevalence of suicide cases were invited to prepare the manual and outline their experiences of preventing suicide. Despite all these efforts, however, there are only three members of IASP in Indonesia, despite Indonesia having the highest suicide rate for countries with a Moslem majority (with a reputed rate of 24 per 100 000), and a total of more than 50 000 suicides per year.

Suicide in Ukraine - Time Trends and Prevention Efforts Ukraine became an independent country in 1991 with the fall of the USSR. Since that time, suicide statistics have become public, the problem of suicide in Ukraine has been acknowledged and suicide research at national level has started. Several local monographs on the problem of suicide Prof. Vsevolod Rozanov in the Ukraine have now been published. The changes IASP National Repreobserved in suicide rates over the last 20 years are typical sentative for Ukraine of all post-Soviet industrial countries in transition - a fairly low rate during “perestroika�, and a dramatic rise after the fall of the USSR. In 1995 the suicide rate in Ukraine was about 30 per 100 000 giving rise to serious concerns. Since then, the rate has persistently declined, and according to official WHO data, most recent data (2006) indicate the rate was a little lower than 20. There are striking regional differences in the suicide rates in Ukraine. While the industrialized and mostly inhabited western part of the country demonstrates very high rates (about 33 per 100 000), in the mostly agricultural and religious southern part suicide rates are 3 times lower. One of the major problems is the high male suicide rate (the gender ratio is about 5:1). Males who die by suicide are predominantly of middle age, with destructive pattern of alcohol consumption, and most live in the county-side. The predominant method (about 80%) is hanging.

In Indonesia, population risk factors for suicide are high almost half of the population has an income of less than $ 2 per day; 10 million are either unemployed, or have untreated mental disorders and are exposed to psychosocial stresssors such as natural and man made disasters, violence, and political unrest.

Suicide prevention measures in Ukraine are implemented mostly by volunteer organizations, professional associations and local initiative groups, such as Human Ecological Health in Odessa region (www.humeco.org.ua). This organization, with support from the international professional suicidology community, created a network of professionals around the country and has recently formulated a National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. The document is not accepted officially, although it is supported by the authorities, professional associations, schools, army and police system, and the medical community.

It is difficult to obtain national suicide data from the Ministry of Health and National Police, even though suicide, overdose and homicide are supposed to be compulsorily reported to those two institutions. The only data I have been able to obtain is from the Department of Forensic Medicine and Medicolegal, Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia in Jakarta, and dates from 1997. The data pertain only to Jakarta (the capital city) and its surroundings with approximately 12 million population: the suicide rate is 58 / 100 000; most suicides are male (ratio 2 :1) and, of 1119 cases, 41% were hanging and 23% used pesticides. Attempted suicide, without fatal outcome, was predominatly female (ratio 2 : 1), and by pesticides 62%, drugs (17%) and poison (18%).

S Y M P O S I U M

Mass media reports about suicide in the Ukraine stray rather far from the standards recommended for suicide prevention. On the other hand, the growing number of publications about suicide in the Ukraine, the growing number of psychologists, and better education of GPs and psychiatrists raise hopes for enhanced understanding of the problem of suicide in Ukraine, for improved attitudes in the general public and amongst authorities, and for the promotion of further suicide prevention measures at local and national levels. Prof. Vsevolod Rozanov, MD, PhD Chair of clinical psychology, Institute of Innovative Post-Diploma Education, Odessa National Mechnikov University, Odessa, Ukraine

C O N F E R E N C E S

XXV IASP WORLD CONGRESS MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY 27–31 OCTOBER 2009 The social program will include a symphony concert at the newly restored 150 year old

A N N O U N C E M E N T S

Radisson Hotel Lottery Winner The IASP 2009 Congress organizers have much pleasure in announcing that the winner of the free hotel stay during the Congress, very graciously and generously offered by the Radisson Hotel in Montevideo, is: DAVID HOUGH, of the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board, New Zealand.

Teatro Solis

Abstract submission closed on 10th April 2009. Very early birds registration closed on March 31st. 2009.

Please see the website for other important congress dates

www.iasp.info

XXV IASP WORLD CONGRESS

Please send any news items, articles of interest or conference announcements for the monthly news bulletin to the editor, Dr Annette Beautrais: annette.beautrais@yale.edu

International Association for Suicide Prevention

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AU

GUST 2009

International Association for Suicide Prevention

PARTNERSHIP FOR CHILDREN

FROM THE PRESIDENT Relocation of Central Office, expansion of the Journal Crisis, United Nations launch of World Suicide Prevention Day and Montevideo submissions exceed expectations

Shortly after the Olympic athletes left Beijing last summer, another visitor arrived in the Chinese capital - a stick insect called Zippy. He is one of the characters in an international programme called Zippy's Friends, which is helping 100,000 young children around the world to develop coping skills.

I have a lot of news to share during these usually quiet summer months. First, after several years of searching and finally consideration of three interesting proposals, the IASP Board of Directors voted to accept the proposal from the National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention of Norway to move the IASP Central Administrative Office to the Gaustad Campus of the University of Oslo, Faculty of Medicine. The move will be initiated in the Fall of 2009 and we are grateful to Lars Mehlum and the National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention to offer us offices free of charge as well as furniture, cleaning, maintenance and electricity at no cost. The premises, owned by the Oslo University Hospital Trust, will be managed by a General Director of IASP who will be recruited for the job and supported by an administrative assistant. This move will facilitate the expansion and development of IASP activities in the coming years and the stability of the organization.

The programme was pioneered by Befrienders International (now Befrienders Worldwide) as an experiment in suicide pre-prevention - if young children can learn how to cope with difficulties, they should be better able to handle problems and crises in adolescence and adult life.

CRIS BALE

The programme is built around a set of stories about a group of young children who have to confront familiar issues - friendship, communication, feeling lonely, bullying, dealing with change and loss, and making a new start. Over 24 weekly sessions, children aged from five to seven learn to identify and talk about their feelings, and to explore ways of dealing with them. They are also encouraged to help other people with their problems. The programme is taught by class teachers, who are specially trained to deliver it.

The IASP Board also decided to increase the number of issues of our official journal, Crisis, from four to six issues per year starting in January 2010. Crisis is provided to all IASP members as part of their membership benefits. This increase will allow the editors, who are receiving far more good articles than they can publish, to increase the proportion of articles published in the journal and provide for more timely publication of submissions. Although there will be a 50% increase in the number of issues, the publisher, Hogrefe, has generously proposed to only increase the costs to IASP members by 25%, who receive the journal as part of their IASP membership, with IASP being billed at a cost that is substantially reduced from the price for the general public. The Board will be debating whether to propose at the Annual General Meeting in Montevideo an increase in dues to compensate for this approximately 20$US per member cost or try to finance the expansion of CRISIS by other means. On World Suicide Prevention Day, 10 September 2009, there will be a launch activity at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, co-sponsored by the World Health Organization and the IASP President will participate in a press conference at the United Nations on this important event. More details will be posted on the IASP website (www.iasp.info). Anyone who is interested in attending this event will find information on the IASP website in the coming month. IASP members are encouraged to look at examples posted on our web site of World Suicide Prevention Day activities in other years for inspiration. You should also send us your 2009 activities so that we can post a selection of activities on the IASP website again this year. (send to annette.beautrais@yale.edu) The Montevideo XXVth World Congress on suicide prevention of IASP is shaping up to be an extraordinary event. With 4 pre-conference workshops, 22 plenary speakers, 13 short workshops during the conference, almost 300 oral presentations and 100 poster presentations, this event will provide considerable stimulation for people interested in any aspects of suicide prevention and postvention. In addition to the scientific programme, there will be meetings of 6 IASP Task Forces and interesting social events, including an “Asado” (barbecue) on a ranch with gauchos and tango dancers (included with everyone's registration) and an optional benefit concert by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Montevideo in the fabulous Solis Theatre. The costs are quite reasonable in comparison with previous congresses. This meeting will be held in springtime in Montevideo and it will be a wonderful opportunity to meet colleagues from around the world. Brian L. Mishara, Ph.D

mishara.brian@uqam.ca

Zippy's Friends is managed by a UK-based non-profit agency, Partnership for Children. Originally developed in Denmark and Lithuania, it is now running in primary schools and kindergartens in 16 countries - from Iceland to India, São Paulo to Shanghai. Cultural adjustments, which are crucially important with programmes for teenagers, have proved to be less of an issue with younger children, and the lessons being taught in a violent and deprived area of London are the same as those being taught to children of the Sámi reindeer herders in Northern Norway.

Of course, it is impossible to evaluate whether the programme helps to prevent suicide, but a number of studies have found that children who complete Zippy's Friends show clear improvements in their coping and social skills. Major ongoing studies in Ireland and Norway are also showing promising results, and the programme has been recognised by the World Health Organisation, the World Federation for Mental Health and a number of national and regional governments. For more information, see www.partnershipforchildren.org.uk

Contributions for the news bulletin are welcomed from other organizations. Please send any contributions to Dr Jerry Reed or contact him for advice about preparing your report. jreed330@comcast.net

President: In official relations with

Prof. Brian Mishara

Vice President:

Prof. Heidi Hjelmeland

Vice President:

Prof. Kees van Heeringen

the World Health Organization

Treasurer:

Prof. Thomas Bronisch

General Secretary:

Assoc. Prof. Annette Beautrais

National Rep:

Dr Murad Khan

Organisational Rep:

Dr Jerry Reed


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LATEST DEVELOPMENT OF SUICIDE PREVENTION IN HONG KONG, SAR PAUL S.F. YIP, DIRECTOR OF CENTRE FOR SUICIDE RESEARCH & PREVENTION, THE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG

Hong Kong, a former British Colony which has now become a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China since 1997, has experienced one of the most drastic changes in it's suicide rate. The rate increased from 12.5 per 100,000 in 1997 to 18.6 per 100,000 in 2003, a nearly 50% increase for the seven year period. In 2003, Hong Kong suffered from the attack of the epidemic called PAUL S.F. YIP Severe Atypical Respiratory Syndrome (commonly known as SARS) causing about 300 deaths and 2000 infections, one of the worst hit regions in the world. The economy, unemployment rate and the mental well-being of the community as a whole were all at their worst situations. Furthermore, the emergence of a new suicide method, namely Charcoal Burning Poisoning suicide had also contributed significantly to the overall increase in the suicide rate for the period of 1997-2003. However, Since 2003 the suicide rate in Hong Kong has reduced significantly up until 2008 with an estimated rate in 2008 of 13.1 per 100,000, a nearly 30% reduction between 2003 and 2008. What can we learn from this rapid fluctuation in the suicide rate from 1997 to 2008? SUICIDE RATE HONG KONG 12,5

1997

18,6

2003 13,1*

2008

*estimated

As we are in the midst of a global financial tsunami, we are faced with large increases in the unemployment rate. Does this mean we will experience yet another rapid increase in the suicide rate again? Although the causal relationship between unemployment rates and suicide rates in Asia is stronger than that in Western countries, so far no signs have been seen of any immediate increase of suicide rate associated with the recent economic downturn in Hong Kong.

In our recent Lancet letter on the need to rethink “suicide prevention in Asian countries”, we highlighted the problems relating to availability and affordability of psychiatric services in Asia, which creates barriers for the community and as a result makes these services less relevant in suicide prevention. With no exception, the majority of suicides in Hong Kong did not consult mental health services prior to death. Only about 26%-28% of suicides had received psychiatric treatment within 12-months before they died. It has been recognized that improving medical treatment for patients at risk of suicide is necessary, but not sufficient, to prevent suicide. Our local research suggest that aftercare support for discharged psychiatric patients, family support, employment opportunities and community acceptance of discharged mental health patients are crucial. The stigmatization of mental patients in our community is a major concern and needs to be removed through school education and public awareness campaigns. Given the scale of the problem, especially with limited resources, a community-based approach would be most relevant and most cost-effective. During the past few years, our Centre has been advocating a variety of preventive measures, including restricting access to suicide means, promoting mental health literacy via a 12-session school-based psycho-educational programme based on cognitive - behavioral therapeutic approach, and reac hing out to suicide survivors at public mortuaries. The installation of platform screen doors along subway stations has also effectively reduced suicides among psychotic patients without any significant sign of substitution. As for school-based programmes, a significant improvement of attitudes towards help- seeking behaviours was found among

S Y M P O S I U M

C O N F E R E N C E S

students in an intervention group but more importantly, a larger reduction was found among students with high depressive scores in comparison with the controls after participating in the 12-session programme.

In addition, with the support of forensic pathologists, we have reached over 3,000 suicide survivors at public mortuaries in the past year, offering immediate support and referral services to families in acute grief. About 35% of them agreed to participate in a follow-up study. This innovative study sheds light on developing accessible services for suicide survivors by front-line helping professionals. We have also participated in some community based projects which make use of the resources in the community to help those in need and vulnerable. The 30% reduction in the suicide rate from 2003-2008 was phenomenal and it was due not to luck but to dedicated commitment and hard work from stakeholders at all fronts in the community. It definitely underscores calls for participation from the wider community to tackle the problem of suicide prevention.

"Suicidology brought us together"

IASP extends warmest congratulations to two IASP members, Karl Andriessen and Karolina Krysinska, who were married in Mechelen, Belgium on 3 July 2009.

A N N O U N C E M E N T S

XXV IASP WORLD CONGRESS MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY 27–31 OCTOBER 2009 The social program will include a symphony concert 28th October at the newly restored 150 year old

Teatro Solís

Abstract submission closed on 10th April 2009. Very early birds registration closed on 31st March 2009.

Please see the website for other important congress dates

www.iasp.info

XXV IASP WORLD CONGRESS

International Association for Suicide Prevention

Please send any news items, articles of interest or conference announcements for the monthly news bulletin to the editor, Dr Annette Beautrais: annette.beautrais@yale.edu

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TOBER 2009

International Association for Suicide Prevention

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Working to Create Political Will FROM THE PRESIDENT

As the end of my mandate as President is approaching, I am pleased that I will be leaving the Board with the organization having a much more active presence on the world scene. World Suicide Prevention Day activities around the globe have been expanding exponentially. If you have not visited the IASP Website recently and looked at the photo display of WSPD activities, you are missing a beautiful example of how suicide prevention in different cultures embodies the spirit and enthusiasm that inspire us to continue our work. Overall, the IASP website has been greatly expanded, it is rising in Google priority, and increasingly, our site is providing useful information on suicide prevention around the world.

Our journal, CRISIS, will expand by 50% to 6 issues a year in 2010, with minimum additional costs to members. Several new IASP Task Forces have been added and task force activities are greatly expanding (again, see the Website). New and revised WHO Guidelines have been published based upon Task Force work and these guidelines are now being published jointly by IASP and WHO. The Asia-Pacific Regional Conferences have been impressive successes and the IASP World Congress in Montevideo at the end of October has participants from 48 countries and excellent attendance, despite the current economic situation. For the first time we will have translation in Spanish and English in all plenary and parallel sessions, with translation also into Portuguese in several rooms. The Montevideo congress constitutes a return to Latin America after many years and I hope that IASP sponsored events in the area will become much more frequent. By the end of this year, our first pilot-programme in helping developing countries in suicide prevention training will take place in Uganda, and I am pleased to be involved in this project as a trainer. One of the most important developments is the establishment of a permanent IASP Central Office in Oslo, Norway. This office is scheduled to start functioning in early 2010 and will ensure the stability of the organization in the years to come Vanda Scott, who has done an exceptional job of running the Central Office from her home in France, will be coordinating the move. She is working with Kenneth Hemmerick, who designs and is webmaster for IASP's site, to establish an electronic archive and database in a sort of virtual office to be accessible by Central Office and IASP officers.

Still, there are many challenges ahead. We are looking for a venue for the 2012 Asia-Pacific Regional Congress (if you are interested, please let us know). We must also develop new mechanisms for handling the increasingly complex requests and demands upon the organization. Our relationship with the World Health Organization and collaboration in future projects, where we are the only organization involved in suicide prevention who is in official relations, will need to be clarified with changes in WHO mental health division staff. Also at WHO, although suicidal behaviours are named as one of the major causes of injury worldwide, the injury prevention division of WHO and the International Violence Prevention Alliance have chosen to focus on other-directed violent behaviors and pretty much ignore the relationship between suicide and other violent acts and their common risk factors. Suicide and suicide attempts are still illegal in many countries and I hope that IASP will become more involved in promoting decriminalization of suicide worldwide.

Suicide still remains a major cause of premature death around the world and there is much more that needs to be done. I am pleased to have been involved on the IASP Board and appreciate the opportunity to have worked with so many wonderful dedicated people in the field. I look forward to continuing those relationships in the future and I am confident that the new IASP Board will meet the many challenges and will develop new and exciting activities in preventing suicide worldwide. I am looking forward to seeing you in Montevideo. Brian L. Mishara, Ph.D

In 1996 the World Health Organization and the United Nations issued a report, Prevention of Suicide: Guidelines for the Formulation and Implementation of National Strategies, calling for the development of national strategies to address this global health problem. Of significance was the notion that suicide prevention plans must combine investments in scientific research, education and political will. This landmark report was a guiding factor in the creation of the first U.S. National Strategy for Suicide Prevention in 2001.

Fast forward to 2009 and to the announced merger of two leading suicide prevention organizations - the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the Suicide Prevention Action Network USA (SPAN USA). The merger combines AFSP's research and education expertise with the public policy and advocacy expertise of SPAN USA, which includes passage of U.S. Congressional resolutions re-cognizing suicide as a national problem and leadership in the passage of mental health parity legislation. FFSP's core strength has been its support of scientific research and over the last decade its educational programs and initiatives to support those at risk for suicide and survivors of suicide loss. AFSP has established a network of 38 chapters to serve states and communities, with a dozen more expected by 2011. These chapters, along with AFSP's Out of the Darkness walks, present new opportunities for grassroots advocacy. Five years ago there weren't any walks; this year 50,000 people will walk in 190 walks and 250,000 family members and friends will sponsor them. Generally, walkers have been im-pacted by suicidal behavior or completed suicide and have decided to get involved. They raise awareness and funds and represent a growing constituency for suicide prevention. As one walker recently expressed it, “we won't allow suicide to continue to be ignored.” An initial goal of the merger is to advance suicide prevention within the current U.S. debate on health reform by advocating for expanded coverage of, and access to, treatment for mental disorders, support for mental health checkups across the lifespan and better coordination of care for suicide attempt survivors and individuals with mental disorders. The long-term goal is to establish an aggressive policy agenda for suicide prevention at national, state and local levels. Suicide is a serious problem in the United States with 33,000 reported deaths and an estimated one million attempts annually. It's the third leading cause of death for those 15 to 24 years of age and fourth among those 18 to 65 years of age. Despite these facts, prevention research and programs suffer from a lack of funding and misconceptions and stigma continue to surround suicide. The AFSP/ SPAN USA merger looks to change this by strengthening grassroots advocacy and exerting greater influence on policies and legislation … providing the political will to make suicide prevention a national priority in the U.S.

Contributions for the news bulletin are welcomed from other organizations. Please send any contributions to Dr Jerry Reed or contact him for advice about preparing your report. jreed330@comcast.net

mishara.brian@uqam.ca

President: In official relations with

Bob Gebbia

Executive Director, In the United States and elsewhere, most public health problems AFSP aren't adequately addressed, nor mortality reduced, without a vocal constituency advocating for the required attention and resources. This has been true of breast cancer and HIV/AIDS and it is reasonable to think that the same will be true of suicide prevention.

Prof. Brian Mishara

Vice President:

Prof. Heidi Hjelmeland

Vice President:

Prof. Kees van Heeringen

the World Health Organization

Treasurer:

Prof. Thomas Bronisch

General Secretary:

Assoc. Prof. Annette Beautrais

National Rep:

Dr Murad Khan

Organisational Rep:

Dr Jerry Reed


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WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY 2009 WSPD 2009 was observed in more than 40 countries with more than 100 educational and commemorative events, press briefings and public conferences, while Internet, Facebook (IASP has more than 700 fans!) and Twitter coverage ensured millions of people around the world were linked to WSPD activities on September 10th. WSPD was launched at the United Nations in New York with a Press Conference for international journalists, and a three-hour public conference which addressed the theme “Suicide Prevention in Different Cultures”. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the JED foundation, Lifeline and other groups joined with IASP in publicizing the event and a record crowd overflowed the UN conference room. People came to the conference not only from New York but from across the US. The person who made the longest journey to the UN Launch was Professor Chi-Yun Lin, Professor at the Institute of Life and Death Education and Counseling in the Taipei College of Nursing, and Director of Taiwan Association for Caring and Counseling for Loss.

An amazing range of activities was undertaken to mark WSPD 2009. These are listed on the IASP website and provide exciting evidence of the rapid diffusion of the WSPD concept, and inspirational ideas for events in future years. Events on the theme of Suicide Prevention in Different Ccultures were held from the Vatican to Vanuatu, from Bangladesh to Belgium, and from China to the Cook Islands. We encourage you to read about these activities at www.iasp.info/wspd, view the photo archive of events in different countries and submit any photos of your own to us (to Annette.beautrais@yale.edu) This year IASP launched a new event, Light a Candle for Suicide Prevention at 8PM, designed to enable people to meaningfully participate in, and support, WSPD even if there were no local activities. We received many comments from people who thought this was a wonderful idea. The International Association for Suicide Prevention Invites you to Light a Candle at 8 PM

On September 10th World Suicide Prevention Day Light a candle near a window at 8 PM to show your support for suicide prevention to remember a lost loved one and for the survivors of suicide.

Joanne Harpel (AFSP), Dr Annette Beautrais (IASP) and Professor Chi-Yun Lin of Taiwan at the United Nations New York Launch of WSPD 2009

WSPD Switzerland

World Suicide Prevention Day

WSPD Fiji S Y M P O S I U M

www.iasp.info

Kenneth Hemmerick IASP Webmaster

Kenneth Hemmerick is the IASP webmaster and responsible for recent changes to the IASP website www.iasp.info

If you have not visited the website recently please do so – Kenneth has worked to update the site and added a large amount of very useful information. In addition, Kenneth worked tiredlessly and with great enthusiasm and imagination to publicize World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) in 2009, adding lists of activities and photo archives to the website, and generating press, Facebook and Twitter publicity for both IASP and WSPD 2009. The IASP website has benefited greatly from Kenneth’s artistic talents – he graduated with distinction in Interdisciplinary Studies (Fine Arts) from Concordia University. To date, he has had 27 solo, juried and group shows in Canada, the U.S., Argentina and South Korea. He has written music for six award- winning films and his video productions. In addition, he has had exhibitions of his videos in Canada, Mexico and Cuba. His works are owned by collectors in the U.S. Canada and the UK. In 1998, he created Suicide Prevention Help (www.suicidepreventionhelp.com), in the days before Google, as he was concerned that there were websites encouraging people to commit suicide. He serves as a consultant, designer and Webmaster to the IASP in the development of their website.

WSPD India C O N F E R E N C E S

A N N O U N C E M E N T S

XXV IASP WORLD CONGRESS MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY 27–31 OCTOBER 2009 The social program will include a symphony concert 28th October at the newly restored 150 year old

Teatro Solís

Abstract submission closed on 10th April 2009. Very early birds registration closed on 31st March 2009.

Please see the website for other important congress dates

www.iasp.info

IASP CONGRESS MONTEVIDEO Friday 16th October is the deadline for payments at the Secretariat of preregistrations and hotel bookings, as well as pre-bookings for transfers and the Congress concert. After that date, registrations will be resumed on Tuesday 27th October at the Radisson Hotel at "On Site" costs. You will also be able to buy Concert tickets on site. The shuttle airport transfer cost: US$ 20 - to be booked in advance. IASP 2009 CONGRESS SECRETARIAT

XXV IASP WORLD CONGRESS

International Association for Suicide Prevention

Ph. +598.2.9160900 / Fax +598.2.9168902

Email: registrations@iasp2009.org www.iasp.info

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EC

EMBER 200 9

International Association for Suicide Prevention

IASP Council of Organizational Representatives meets in Montevideo, Uruguay

FROM THE PRESIDENT

It is a great honor for me to have the opportunity to serve IASP as president. I have been a Suicidologist for almost 40 years and, for the last 15, have had the privilege of directing the American Association of Suicidology. From these perspectives I can attest that it is no small task to meet the needs of a diverse membership, no less establish collaborations among individuals and organizations with diverse interests and constituencies. Attempting this on an international scale is challenging. My prior tenures on IASP's executive, two terms as vice president and one as treasurer, have made me well aware of the relatively limited degrees of freedom posed by a too small budget and the considerable range of potential roadblocks posed by our global reach. My focus as president, however, will not be on barriers, but on opportunities - to implement the organization's strategic plan, to improve the organization's financial health, to build pathways toward collaborations, and to create initiatives that will strengthen IASP and support global suicide prevention efforts.

During the XXV IASP World Congress held in Montevideo, Uruguay in October the members of the Council of Organizational Representatives took the opportunity to get together and share their ideas and experiences and hold an excellent and productive exchange on new initiatives and programmes. Following the formal reports on the Council's affairs and activities in the past two years, constructive discussion and creative ideas covered a range of topics: • Ways to increase membership and activate existing members of the Council; • Working with both individuals and groups to establish a stronger presence for suicide prevention in interested countries; • Strategies to enhance activities around the globe during IASP's World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th each year. Suggestions were also offered on how organizational members, in liaison with National

The possibility of our accomplishing these objectives is emboldened by an

Representatives, could advance IASP's work in their respective countries

extraordinary group of dedicated board members who have committed their energies to these tasks. The Chairs of the National and Organizational Representatives, Murad Khan and Jerry Reed, respectively, have accepted the task of developing and proposing new membership initiatives; Treasurer Michael Phillips will be reviewing and potentially recommending changes to our existing contracts; vice president Ella Arensman has accepted responsibility to develop and strengthen a collaboration with Mental Health Europe; and each and every board member -those already mentioned in addition to vice presidents Heidi Hjelmeland and Paul Yip - soon will be presenting case statements for potential new initiatives for the organization.

• By identifying organizations engaged in suicide prevention, • Inviting them to become members of IASP; • Ensuring that in all congresses and regular newsletters the contributions of organizational members were promoted. The Council nominated me to serve as Chair for an additional two year term and keenly nominated Joy Field from the Samaritans UK to serve as my Deputy Chair. We confirmed our commitment to the attending representatives and later to membership at the General Assembly.

We have already begun exploring the possibility of developing new regional conferences, the first of which we hope to have in the Caribbean region perhaps within the next year; and I have already been asked to participate on a WHO “Guideline Development Committee” that will be developing a framework for national policies on suicide prevention. These initiatives are over and above existing board management responsibilities that include World Suicide Prevention Day, our various Task Forces, the 2010 Asia-Pacific Regional Conference in Brisbane and the 2011 World Congress in Beijing, our training programs, journal, news bulletin, etc.

That we have hit the ground running is surely an understatement. The ease of our transition from the previous to the current board could not have been possible without the advice and counsel from our immediate past president Brian Mishara and the archived knowledge and reservoir of support offered by our development consultant Vanda Scott, who, in addition, has agreed to serve as our interim general secretary until the current election process to fill this vacant board position has been completed. Moreover, Vanda will ensure a successful transition to our new office in Oslo early in 2010.

IASP will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2010. Our successes should not be measured in retrospect, but in our potential to tap our greatest strength - our membership and the intellectual resources you can offer. I invite your input to and your interest in becoming an active part of what we are yet to become. I would like to use this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Lanny Berman, Ph.D., ABPP

The Council heard from guests from Brazil and Jamaica requesting information on membership and IASP in advancing their efforts in suicide prevention in their respective nations. A special meeting of interested delegates from Brazil was then organized to explore options for development of this theme. The Council expressed their appreciation to outgoing members of the Executive Board, Thomas Bronisch, Kees Van Heeringen and Annette Beautrais, for their service to the organization and specifically gratitude was fully extended to Brian Mishara, the retiring president for his dedication over the past 4 years in actively promoting and developing the work of IASP, worldwide Any organization interested in membership or contributing to the IASP news bulletin should contact Chair of the Council of Organizational Representatives Dr. Jerry Reed at jreed330@comcast.net for more information. Jerry Reed, Ph.D., MSW

President: Dr Lanny Berman

Treasurer: Professor Michael Philips

In official relations with

1st Vice President: Professor Heidi Hjelmeland

General Secretary: Vanda Scott

the World Health Organization

2nd Vice President: Professor Paul Yip

National Rep: Dr Murad Khan

3rd Vice President: Dr Ella Arensman

Organisational Rep: Dr Jerry Reed


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IASP Council of National Representatives meets in Montevideo, Uruguay

RECIPIENTS OF IASP AWARDS AT THE XXV IASP CONFERENCE IN MONTEVIDEO

During the XXV IASP World Congress held in Montevideo, Uruguay in October a meeting of the National Representatives was held and 15 countries were represented in the meeting.

Stengel Research Award

A report of the Council's affairs over the last two years was presented, followed by the President's report, highlighting the following areas: • Need to make suicide prevention more visible at a global level. • Promote suicide prevention through use of website, organize activities around the World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) and through WHO's new mental health initiative - Mental Health Gap (mh-GAP) which has several goals concerning suicide prevention. • Systematic knowledge transfer providing knowledge and experience at global level A general discussion took place and a number of useful suggestions were made: • Increase in the membership of IASP • Help national representatives develop national suicide prevention associations/Networks • Use of newsletter to share/disseminate information on suicide prevention activities in respective countries Brief presentations on suicide prevention were made by a number of national representatives. Members found this a useful exercise as it helped them learn how other countries have developed suicide prevention programs in their countries. Selection of the venue for 2013 IASP Congress was held. Of the three venues (Oslo, Montreal and Rome), Oslo in Norway was chosen by an overwhelming majority. Elections for the Chair and Deputy Chair were held. Dr. Murad Khan from Pakistan and Dr. Jane Pirkis from Australia were elected as chair and deputy chair for the next two years. Both thanked the members and expressed their commitment to work towards the IASP objectives. The council also heard from some delegates of Brazil about the lack of any co-ordinated activity in suicide prevention in their country. A separate meeting was later held with a group of Brazilian delegates to explore ways how this could be best addressed. Useful suggestions were noted and we plan to follow this up through the national representative for Brazil. The council expressed its thanks to the outgoing Board and particularly the President Dr. Brian Mishara for his dedication, commitment and hard work over the last four years in promoting the cause of suicide prevention through IASP. Any person interested in becoming an IASP member can contact the national representative or chair Dr. Murad Khan at murad.khan@aku.edu for more information. Dr Murad M Khan

At the XXV IASP Conference in Montevideo, Professor Mark Williams was awarded the Stengel Research Award. Mark Williams is Professor of Clinical Psychology and Wellcome Principal Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. He holds a joint appointment in the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Experimental Psychology. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the British Academy. His research is concerned with understanding the processes that increase risk of suicidal behaviour in serious and recurrent depression. With colleagues John Teasdale (Cambridge) and Zindel Segal (Toronto) he developed Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for prevention of recurrence, and two trials have found that MBCT halves the risk of relapse in those who have suffered three or more previous episodes of major depression. His books include The Psychological Treatment of Depression (Routledge, 1984, 1992), Cognitive Psychology and Emotional Disorders (Wiley, 1988, 1997), Cry of Pain: understanding suicide and self harm (Penguin, 1997, 2002) and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for Depression: A new approach to preventing relapse (Guilford, 2002). His most recent book, The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing yourself from Chronic Unhappiness (Guilford, 2007; with John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn) is written for a lay-readership.

Farberow Award At the XXV IASP Conference in Montevideo, Dr Frank Campbell was the recipient of the Farberow Award. Frank Campbell, PhD, LCSW, is the former Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Crisis intervention Center and the Crisis Center Foundation in Louisiana, USA. He is currently Senior Consultant for Campbell and Associates Consulting where he consults with communities and on Forensic Suicidology cases. He introduced his Active Postvention Model (APM) most commonly known as the LOSS Team (Local Outreach to Survivors of Suicide). The APM concept involves a team of first responders who go to the scene of a suicide and provide support and referral for those bereaved by the suicide. The main objective is to shorten the elapsed time between the death and survivors finding the help they feel will help them cope with this devastating loss. The APM has shown to have a positive impact on both the team members as well as the newly bereaved. The model has now been replicated in countries as diverse as Australia, Singapore, Northern Ireland, Canada and America. Campbell has also been selected to receive the Louis Dublin award at the 2010 American Association of Suicidology Conference. Dr. Campbell is a past president of the AAS and has received the Roger J. Tierney award for service. He was Social Worker of the year in Louisiana and the first John W. Barton Fellow selected in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. To learn more about his work in the field of suicidology you can visit www.lossteam.com

De Leo Fund Award For the first time, IASP awarded the De Leo Fund award. The De Leo Fund Award honours the memory of Nicola and Vittorio, the beloved children of Professor Diego De Leo, IASP Past President. The Award is offered to distinguished scholars in recognition of their outstanding research on suicidal behaviours carried out in developing countries. The first recipient of the De Leo Fund Award is Alireza Ahmadi, MD. Dr Ahmadi has a background in anaesthesiology from the Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences (KUMS) in Iran. He has worked in the area of injury prevention, especially in prevention of self-immolation (deliberate self-inflected burns) and has published a number of articles in peer review journals. Dr Ahmadi is principal investigator of numerous clinical studies and has been involved in the study of novel methods for prevention of self-immolation such as "victim stories". Since 2006, he has been Board Director Member of the International Society of Violence and Injury Prevention (ISVIP), and since 2008 he is Adjunct researcher of the Safety Promotion and Injury Prevention research group at the Division of Social Medicine of the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. Dr Ahmadi is also Chair of the International Society for Child and Adolescent Injury Prevention (ISCAIP), and Deputy Editor and founder of the Journal of Injury and Violence Research (JIVR).

International Association for Suicide Prevention

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THEME The Economic Recession and Suicidal Behaviour Many countries across the world have been affected by the economic recession that started in 2008 and which has not yet reached its end. What are the implications for suicidal behaviour and its prevention? According to Gunnell et al (2009) and Stuckler et al (2009), the consequences in terms of an expected increase in suicide may be serious and they underline the need for preventative action. In addition to an increase in suicide, there are also indications of an increase in deliberate self harm. For example, in Ireland, where the economic recession occurred very rapidly in 2008, data from the National Registry of Deliberate Self Harm showed a 6% increase in deliberate self harm from the previous year, with a stronger increase of self harm in men (10%) compared to women (2%) (NSRF, 2009). This increase is further validated by the finding that in 2008 a significant increase was observed in attempted hanging which is a highly lethal self harm method. Since we know that in men deliberate self harm is more strongly associated with suicide than in women, the suicide rates in Irish men may increase.

Furthermore, due to cutbacks in mental health services, as for example in Ireland, increased demands on these services cannot be dealt with efficiently, which may further contribute to increased suicidal behaviour. In terms of suicide prevention this clearly represents a paradoxical situation.

In order to mitigate the negative consequences of the recession, both Gunnell et al and Stuckler et al recommend active labour market programmes that keep and reintegrate workers in jobs. Gunnell et al also recommend additional interventions, such as increasing the employers' awareness of the impact of redundancy on the employees' mental health and suicide risk, and resourcing community health agencies to support people who are facing problems related to job loss and debt. In terms of the media, it is recommended to work closely with the media in order to prevent simplistic and high profile reporting of suicides by business executives and unemployed people in order to prevent copycat suicides.

Gunnell et al present convincing evidence that increased unemployment which

References

is one the main consequences of the current economic recession is associated with increased prevalence of depression and suicidal ideation as well as suicide risk. This effect has been found among both people with and without mental health problems and in different countries worldwide. Based on employment and mortality data from 26 European countries between 1970 and 2007, Stuckler et al found that a 3% increase of unemployment had a greater effect on suicides among people aged younger than 65 years. Gunnell et al also point at the implications of financial difficulties which are likely to follow from the current recession. As a consequence of the stress related to job insecurity, people may develop mental health problems. However, those currently most in need of mental health services may not have the financial resources to access them.

Gunnell D, Platt S, Hawton K. The economic crisis and suicide. Consequences may be serious and warrant early attention. BMJ 2009; 338:1456-7. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b1891. National Suicide Research Foundation. National Registry of Deliberate Self Harm Annual Report 2008. 2009; National Suicide Research Foundation, Cork, Ireland. www.nsrf.ie Stuckler D, Basu S, Suhrcke M, Coutts A, McKee M. The public health effect of economic crises and alternative policy responses in Europe: an empirical analysis. Lancet 2009;374(9686):315-23. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61124-7.

Ella Arensman

CONFERENCES and SYMPOSIUM ANNOUNCEMENTS

43rd American Association of Suicidology Annual Conference Families, Community Systems and Suicide April 21st - 24th, 2010 For further information, see www.suicidology.org American Association of Suicidology (AAS)

Submission of Abstracts for Parallel Sessions: DEADLINE OF SUBMISSION: February 10, 2010; Submission of Proposals for Parallel Symposia, Courses and Workshop: DEADLINE OF SUBMISSION: March 26, 2010. For further information, see www.esssb13.org

4th Asia Pacific Regional Conference of the International Association for Suicide Prevention 17th-20th November, 2010 The 4th Asia Pacific Regional Conference of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) is to be jointly hosted by Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) and The Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP). For further information, see www.suicideprevention2010brisbane.org

XXVI IASP World Congress 21-24 September 2011 Beijing, China

International Association for Suicide Prevention

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