The Irish Association of Suicidology (IAS)
The IAS provides singular, authoritative, topical, safe, locally contextualised information and advice to everyone involved in the prevention and containment of the harms arising from suicide and self harm.
The Irish Association of Suicidology was founded in 1996 by Dr John Connolly, the late Dr Michael Kelleher, and Mr Dan Neville T.D. The IAS has been working with community, voluntary and statutory bodies since its inception to inform, educate and promote positive suicide prevention policies throughout the island of Ireland.
The IAS prides itself on being a forum where all organisations can come together and exchange knowledge regarding and aspect of Suicidology which is gained from differing perspectives and experiences. In our opinion no group, voluntary or professional has a monopoly of wisdom or expertise about suicide. Suicide prevention in everybody responsibility and requires coordinated action by all parts of our society. Through its conference and publications, the IAS highlights various aspects of suicide and endeavours to influence public policy and insure that positive action is taken to provide adequate strategies to combat this tragic problem in our society.
|Mr. Dan Neville
|Dr. John F. Connolly
|Dr. Justin Brophy
|Dr. Margaret Kelleher
|Ms. Neasa Cummins
|Prof. Siobhan O’Neill
|Mr. Robert Burke
Among our aims and objectives are:-
- To facilitate communication between clinicians, volunteers, survivors and researchers in all matters relating to suicide and suicidal behaviour.
- To promote awareness of the problems of suicide and suicidal behaviour in the general public by holding conferences and workshops and by communication of relevant material through the media.
- To ensure that the public are better informed about suicide prevention.
- To Support and encourage relevant research. To encourage and support the information of groups to help those bereaved by suicide.
- To make the IAS an all-island organisation.
Suicide and suicide related harm and deaths are different in many unique and fundamental ways from other health related problems.
Not only does suicide related harm impact health, there are several larger social and communal impacts which are multipliers of the individual costs.
Suicide operates in a fundamentally social and communal context. The phenomenon of suicide contagion (clustering) is well recognised. Exposure to suicide and discussions around suicide may increase an individual’s risk of suicide. Nonetheless, discussing suicidal thoughts is an important element of treatment. Sigma around suicide is damaging for those who may have suicidal thoughts and those bereaved through suicide.
Suicidology is the academic study of suicide rates and factors associated with suicidal behaviour, as well as the study of variables which reduce the risk of suicide. Research in this discipline has revealed that the factors associated with suicidal behaviour are many and complex. Many of those affected have mental health disorders, however most people with mental disorders do not take their own lives. Suicide is also associated with social factors, religious and cultural beliefs, access to means and information about methods. Adverse events associated with suicide include relationship difficulties, health problems, bullying, employment problems, financial difficulties, substance use and abuse, trouble with the law and social stigma.
There are therefore a large number of stakeholders who can positively and negatively influence suicidal behaviour. Consequently, how suicide is treated by these stakeholder individuals and agencies directly contributes to the suicide rate and the burden of suicide.
There are dynamic and constantly changing social and cultural trends regarding suicide. These can include changes in the availability of methods, suicidal behaviour associated with a particular social trend or a high profile death by suicide. task of containing and addressing new threats and risks is a difficult one and it may require involvement from a range of agencies. Many of those involved will not have professional expertise in mental health or suicidal behaviour. As such there is a need for an authoritative agency to provide up to date guidance based on the most recent Suicidology research.
Responses to suicide clusters and trends must locally embedded and widely supported by the community and be particularly sensitive to local and cultural contexts. Given the importance of the social environment in preventing suicidal it is necessary to both achieve clarity and yet sophistication with regards to public and policy utterances on this topic. The key role of the Irish Association of Suicidology is to interface scientific and academic research on suicide, international and national policy responses, clinical practices, and community needs and responses.
The risks associated with oversimplification and misinformation around suicide and suicidal behaviour are clear. Public responses and queries regarding suicidal behaviour can perversely and counter-intuitively increase risk. These risks cannot be overstated as suicidal behaviour is demonstrably a contagious phenomenon. It is vital that we have an agency to provide evidence-based guidance on balancing the risks of misinformation and ignorance with the risks of informing. For that reason a confident, authoritative and proactive organisation is required. While Suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility he Irish Association of Suicidality can inform advice, empower, align, train, and link different organisations, bridge knowledge gaps and most fundamentally translate knowledge into safe and coherent policy advice to reduce the burden of suicide.
The IAS is and has a long record as an organisation as being so positioned and placed to address this unique question in a way that provides singular, authoritative, topical, safe information and advice to the multiplicity stakeholders already outlined.
These stakeholders are named in Reach Out the national policy on suicide prevention. These include school communities, third level institutions, workplaces, general hospital, primary care and mental health services as well as specific locales including prisons, Gardai custody, and other specialised settings.
Reach Out in several places (including action domains 11 through to 21) states such responses are required to the professional and the communities who operate in their various arenas. As of yet no single organisation currently exists that has either the configuration or position (other than the IAS) which can address these.
These have been and can be further addressed by the IAS in a sequential or in a multi-pronged approach depending on resourcing and logistical considerations.