Symposium Workshops

Entry to the following Workshops is included in the Symposium registration fee.

Workshop 1a: Suicide Prevention in International Context: Progress and Challenges The objectives of this workshop are:

1) To provide a global overview of suicide prevention activities and national programmes following the publication of the Suicide Prevention: A Global Imperative (WHO, 2014),

2) To highlight challenges in developing and implementing national suicide prevention programmes,

3) To set out approaches for increasing government support for the development and implementation of national suicide prevention programmes,

4) To provide a platform for delegates to share experiences and obtain information regarding specific needs and requirements in developing and implementing national suicide prevention programmes.

In 2014, the World Health organization (WHO) published its first-ever world suicide prevention report (Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative). The WHO report strongly underlined the importance of countries employing a multi-sectoral approach, which brings together different stakeholders, and which is based on their current resources and contexts. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which focus on what can be achieved by 2030. Target 3.4 is to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by one third by 2030 through prevention and treatment and the promotion of mental health and well-being. The suicide rate is an indicator for target 3.4.

Currently, approximately 40 countries at all income levels have adopted a national suicide prevention strategy, with some countries already developing or implementing further revision(s) of their national strategy. However, only a few low- and middle-income countries have adopted a national suicide prevention strategy, even though 79% of suicides occur in these countries. The available national suicide prevention strategies vary in terms of outcome indicators as well as approaches to evaluation.

Since the publication of the 2014 WHO Report on suicide prevention at global level, considerable progress has been made in countries initiating the development or implementation of national suicide prevention programmes. The prevention of suicide is not only important for individuals and families but also benefits the well-being of society, the health care system, and the economy at large.

Workshop 1b: Surveillance of Suicide and Self-Harm/Suicide Attempts: Challenges and evidence based approaches This is a 3-hour training workshop which targets policy makers, health professionals, data registration officers, researchers and statisticians working at general hospitals, university departments, research institutes, ministries of health, and nongovernmental organisations.  The workshop is supported by the recently published World Health Organisation document on the surveillance of suicidal behaviour: Practice manual for establishing and maintaining surveillance systems for suicide attempts and self-harm, available at: The workshop programme includes:

  • A review of the literature around standardising the classification of suicide
  • An exploration of suicide registration procedures and surveillance systems internationally
  • An analysis of the challenges of suicide surveillance including recommendations
  • An outline of the benefits of real-time surveillance systems
  • An examination of the terminology around suicidal behaviour
  • Detailed best practice criteria for establishing and maintaining suicide attempt/self-harm surveillance systems
  • A guideline on implementing standard operating procedures, involving monitoring and cross-checking cases

This workshop also incorporates ten interactive vignette scenarios detailing potential presentations to emergency departments, which encourage discussion and effective decision making in relation to the classification of suicidal behaviour in the acute setting.\

Workshop 2: An Enhanced Psychological Autopsy approach towards examining suicide and supporting families bereaved by suicide This workshop will provide a training opportunity for researchers and health professionals to update their knowledge and skills in conducting psychological autopsy research as a structural component of suicide surveillance and determining priorities for suicide prevention. Psychological autopsy refers to a procedure for investigating a person’s death by reconstructing what the person’s situation, thoughts, feeling and behaviours before death, based on systematically obtaining information from medical and coroner’s records, police reports, personal information, and interviews with family members and friends who were closely linked to the deceased. A key component of the enhanced psychological autopsy approach is to systematically collect information from multiple sources, which can be verified and representative of a standardised suicide surveillance system. This provides clarity for research and analysis of data pertaining to individual cases of suicide and sudden untimely death, thus minimising potential for interpretative bias. The enhanced psychological autopsy approach was developed as part of the Suicide Support and Information System(SSIS) (Arensman et al, 2016; 2013; 2012). The SSIS is innovative as it was developed to prevent suicide by pro-actively facilitating access to support for the bereaved while at the same time obtaining information on risk factors associated with suicide and deaths classified as open verdicts using a systematic and standardised procedure.

Workshop 3: Building Hope in Hopeless Situations  People working in suicide prevention may experience difficulties in knowing how to be of help when confronted with suicidal individuals whose life circumstances are presented as being utterly without hope for improvement.  These include individuals who have experienced irremediable losses, such as refugees who have been displaced from their homeland, people who suffer from a debilitating terminal illness, and individuals bereaved after the violent death of loved ones.  This workshop will focus on understanding suicide workers’ obstacles to helping in such circumstances and on exploring potential techniques for building and maintaining hope in suicidal individuals who experience hopeless situations. This is a participatory workshop in which the presentation of information will be complemented by attendees being invited to engage in exercises.  We will examine obstacles for helpers to feel hopeful with certain suicidal persons, as well as common myths and prejudices associated with suicidal despair.  We will explore strategies to increase hope in the context of interactions with persons at moderate and high risk of suicide, who describe hopeless life circumstances as their most important motivation for wanting to end their lives.  The general approach will become aware of methods of validating the person to increase feelings of self-worth, as well as techniques to change the focus and perceptions of the situation, in the context of a brief crisis intervention in situations that appear to be desperate. The ultimate goal of the workshop is to contribute to increasing the confidence and competence of suicide prevention workers in helping to increase hope in persons experiencing extreme hopelessness.

Workshop 4: GateKeeper Training In essence, gatekeepers open the gate to help for people at risk of suicide. Gatekeepers are individuals within mental health and community-based services who may be in a position to identify people at risk of suicide by recognising risk factors for suicide. Early identification of suicide risk is crucial in order to prevent self-harm and is the starting point of suicide prevention.