Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives

September 03, 2015

News Type:  Director's Corner
Author:  Jerry Reed, PhD, MSW, SPRC Director, Education Development Center, Inc.

September brings with it two important opportunities to celebrate our progress in suicide prevention and to raise awareness that much still needs to be done to reduce the mortality and morbidity resulting from suicidal behavior. September 10 marks the thirteenth observance of World Suicide Prevention Day, whose theme this year is “Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives.” September 7-13 is National Suicide Prevention Week in the United States. I encourage everyone in our field to find a way to participate in these observances and I also want to express my gratitude to the organizations that make them possible: the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), which partners with the World Health Organization (WHO) to promote World Suicide Prevention Day, and the American Association of Suicidology (AAS), which coordinates National Suicide Prevention Week. I am proud to be an individual member of both these associations — and I am proud that the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), for which I serve as Director, is an organizational member of both as well.

It is difficult to express just how important World Suicide Prevention Day and National Suicide Prevention Week are as opportunities to focus the world’s and our nation’s attention on the challenge of suicide as well as the progress we have made in addressing suicide. But both IASP and AAS do much more to contribute to our field than sponsor these annual events. Both have robust websites and valuable newsletters. Both produce journals that are essential sources of the latest research on suicide and suicide prevention. The American Association of Suicidology has published Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior for almost four decades. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention has been published by IASP for almost as long. The world and regional IASP congresses and the annual AAS conference serve as focal points through which we in the field of suicide prevention can share our knowledge and resources, learn from one another, and spread the word about suicide prevention to those outside our immediate community. These meetings are where our community gathers. Every year when I leave these meetings I find myself renewed, refreshed, motivated, and already thinking about our next gathering.

Through the efforts of IASP, AAS, SPRC, all the member organizations of the National Council for Suicide Prevention, and our many colleagues and partners in the field across the nation and around the world, we have indeed spread the word. Members of our community are working with government ministries, non-governmental organizations, faith communities, and the media to prevent suicide. The publication of the WHO report Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative in 2014 marked an important milestone in recognizing suicide as an international problem. The events held by both IASP and AAS have grown bigger and more diverse over the years, as the number of participating countries and sectors, both public and private, has increased. Suicide prevention is no longer left to a small number of academics and researchers, but now includes a broad representation of advocates, clinicians, policymakers, suicide attempt and loss survivors, those with lived experience, and representatives from the fields of health care and behavioral health care. The growth and increased diversity of the suicide prevention community has brought with it more perspectives, more information, more experience, more resources, and more possibilities for effective action that will prevent suicide and address related behavioral and public health concerns.


World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10, 2015)

National Suicide Prevention Week (September 7-13, 2015)

American Association of Suicidology

International Association for Suicide Prevention

Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior

Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention

49th annual conference of the Annual American Association of Suicidology (March 30-April 2, 2016 in Chicago, IL)

XXIX World Congress of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (July 18-22, 2017 in Kuching/Sarawak, Malaysia)

SPRC SPARK Talks (short, videotaped presentations by leaders in suicide prevention)