New WHO Training Manual for Surveillance of Suicide and Self-Harm in Communities

Suicide is a major social and public health concern in South Asia. Furthermore, there are considerable discrepancies in the quality of data on suicide and self-harm in this region. The World Health Organization has recently published a training manual for surveillance of suicide and self-harm, which is based on training material developed by the SPIRIT project.

The Trimbos Institute has been involved in the SPIRIT project in South Asia since 2017 with the aim of reducing the number of suicides and preventing suicide attempts in this region.

WHO training manual

The aim of the WHO training manual is to equip field workers and local professionals with the skills to collect and manage data on suicide and self-harm in the community. In addition, this manual can be used to manage data on suicide and self-harm in the community via key informants, healthcare facilities, and police records. The training for fieldworkers encourages the use of trainee participation, active learning, critical thinking, communication, and listening skills, with role-plays to allow trainees to practice their skills and interpersonal interactions. The manual is based on the training material developed by the Suicide Prevention and Implementation Research Initiative (SPIRIT) project and brings together a wealth of additional international expertise and insights to this important topic.

About the SPIRIT Project

The SPIRIT Project is focused on implementing and evaluating an integrated, evidence-based suicide prevention intervention at scale in rural communities in South Asia, specifically in Gujarat, India. The project is a collaborative project of the Trimbos Institute, the Centre for Mental Health Law and Policy in India, and the Bangladesh Center for Communication Programs in Bangladesh.

Since 2017, SPIRIT has implemented three evidence-based suicide prevention interventions in intervention villages. In addition to the implementation of the interventions, the project developed a community surveillance system to train key informants in communities to collect and manage data on suicide and suicide attempts in villages to add to the reporting of deaths by suicide that are recorded through hospital and police records. This community information can be corroborated with existing administrative records to more comprehensively capture the total number of suicides within a given locality or community. The design and implementation of a community surveillance system is captured in the WHO manual and may be useful for other country contexts.

More information

The SPIRIT project is funded by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. The project was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States under grant number 5U19MH113174–03 REVISED awarded to Principal Investigators Dr. Soumitra Pathare, Prof Laura Shields-Zeeman and Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar.

Trimbos is a WHO Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Interventions and Services across the Life Course and aims to share knowledge on mental health nationally and internationally.

> Go to the SPIRIT webpage for more information

> Download the WHO Training manual for surveillance of suicide and self-harm in communities via key informants here

Laura Shields - Zeeman
Programmahoofd Mentale Gezondheid en Preventie, Trimbos