Suicide is a serious public health problem in EU countries calling for effective interventions. According to WHO data, suicide is among the 16 leading causes of death for all ages (World Health Organization, 2004). It is estimated that 90% of suicides occur within a psychiatric disorder (Mann et al., 2005). The most important disorder in this context is major depression, but also other affective disorders, alcoholism and other addictions, and schizophrenia are frequently underlying suicidal behaviour (Bertolote, Fleischmann, de Leo, & Wasserman, 2004).
Because of the multi-factored causes of suicidality, interventions that address the problem on multiple levels by a multifaceted programme are considered to be most effective. There are numerous suicide prevention activities which have been implemented worldwide on regional or national levels; however strong empirical evidence is lacking for all of the single measures (education and awareness programs, improved treatment of psychiatric disorders, media guidelines for suicide reporting, screening high risk populations, and restriction of access to lethal means (Althaus & Hegerl, 2003).
The groundwork for OSPI-Europe has been laid through implementation of a multifaceted intervention programme for suicide prevention in Nuremberg, Germany (Nuremberg Alliance Against Depression (NAD) and the later expansion of the Nuremberg-concept to other EU countries, which formed the European Alliance Against Depression (EAAD) (Hegerl et al., 2008).
The aim of OSPI-Europe is to provide EU Member States with an evidence-based prevention concept, concrete materials and instruments for running and evaluating these interventions and recommendations for the proper implementation of the intervention. These aims will be achieved by:
The second step was implementing the intervention in the four intervention regions. Between June 2009 and September 2011, the defined intervention measures were implemented for 18 months at least in all regions. After this, the project is now in the phase of improving intervention concepts and materials. Until now, the regions strive towards sustainability of the implemented measures.
Health politicians, stakeholders and the European Commission will be provided with an evidence-based and efficient concept for suicide prevention with corresponding materials and instruments for multifaceted intervention, as well as guidelines for the implementation process.
Althaus, D., & Hegerl, U. (2003). The evaluation of suicide prevention activities: state of the art. World J Biol Psychiatry, 4, 156–165.
Bertolote, J. M., Fleischmann, A., Leo, D. de, & Wasserman, D. (2004). Psychiatric diagnoses and suicide: revisiting the evidence. Crisis, 25(4), 147–155.
Hegerl, U., Wittenburg, L., Arensman, E., van Audenhove, C., Coyne, J., McDaid, D., … (2009). Optimizing Suicide Prevention Programs and Their Implementation in Europe (OSPI Europe): an evidence-based multi-level approach. BMC Public Health, 9(1), 428.
Hegerl, U., Wittman, M., Arensman, E., van Audenhove, C., Bouleau, J. H., Feltz-Cornelis, C., … (2008). The European Alliance Against Depression (EAAD): A multifaceted, community-based action programme against depression and suicidality. World J Biol Psychiatry, 9(1), 51–59.
Mann, J. J., Apter, A., Bertolote, J., Beautrais, A., Currier, D., Haas, A., … (2005). Suicide prevention strategies. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 294(16), 2064.
World Health Organization. (2004). Prevention of Mental disorders. Effective interventions and policy options. (WHO, Ed.). Geneva.