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Reducing suicide and depression in India and Bangladesh: launch of 5-years SPIRIT project

September 19, 2017

We are pleased to announce the launch of SPIRIT (Suicide Prevention and Implementation Research Initiative), a 5-year implementation research hub in India and Bangladesh funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), USA. SPIRIT is an inter-sectoral partnership focused on reducing suicides and attempted suicides and saving lives in South Asia.

SPIRIT addresses suicide prevention, an important issue in India and South Asia. Reducing the global suicide rate is an indicator for Target 3.4 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aims by 2030 to reduce one third of premature mortality from non-communicable disease through prevention, and treatment, and promotion of wellbeing. Reducing the number of suicides is therefore essential for India to achieve the SDGs.

Integrated suicide prevention intervention 
SPIRIT implements an integrated suicide prevention intervention in Mahesana district, located in the state of Gujarat, India. Nearly one third of suicides in India are due to pesticide poisoning and nearly a half of the suicides are impulsive. The project will collaborate with local governmental councils to create community storage facilities for pesticides. This will reduce the likelihood of impulsive suicides due to easy access to lethal pesticides in the home. The project will also collaborate with schools and teachers to deliver a simple training programme to adolescent school children to bolster coping skills to deal with mental distress and strengthening resilience and improving help seeking behaviour, thus reducing chances of suicide. SPIRIT will also train Community Health Workers to identify, support and refer people in their village at risk for suicide or attempted suicide. The SPIRIT hub also aims to strengthen research capacity in implementation science in mental health as well as facilitate the uptake of important implementation lessons from mental health programs and treatments into policy-making in South Asia. SPIRIT will do this by building a cadre of qualified implementation research fellows in India and Bangladesh. Finally, the hub will launch a program for empowering regional policy makers on using implementation research findings and lessons learned to develop policies and strategies for mental health and suicide prevention.

SPIRIT is led by Principal Investigator Dr. Soumitra Pathare (Centre for Mental Health Law and Policy, Pune, India) and Co-Principal Investigators Dr. Lakshmi VIjayakumar (SNEHA, Chennai, India) and Dr. Laura Shields-Zeeman (Trimbos Institute, Netherlands). The SPIRIT consortium brings together government agencies, non-governmental organizations, universities, and public health services from India, Bangladesh, and the Netherlands.

For more information about the SPIRIT implementation research hub, please contact: Dr. Laura Shields-Zeeman, lshields-zeeman@trimbos.nl

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