Suicide is a growing concern in Northern Ireland with our suicide rate being one of the highest in the UK. The reasons for this are complex and may be linked to wide range of social factors including the legacy of The Troubles, increased deprivation and mental ill-health. Reducing current suicide rates requires a multi-facetted approach. Recently, this has been recognised by the NI Assembly who have established a cross-departmental group focused on mental health improvement for NI. The Suicide Prevention Research and Impact Network (SPRIN) will create space to ensure that evidence supports the allocation of resources as effectively as possible. The evidence that has been effectively translated into practice may be making an impact. With more consistent approaches to monitoring and evaluating, that learning would be shared nationally and internationally, to ultimately prevent more deaths. Suicide prevention requires a focused, multi-disciplinary and multi-pronged approach that is effectively coordinated with strong leadership. The relationships established within the network will support the facilitation of research evidence getting effectively translated into policy and practice. SPRIN is co-chaired by Dr Karen Galway, Mental Health Lecturer in Queen's University Belfast and Professor Siobhan O'Neill, Interim Mental Health Champion and Professor of Mental Health at Ulster University.
The aims of SPRIN are primarily focused on strengthening research-practice connections in the field of suicide prevention and improving the evidence-base nationally and internationally. Specifically, the network aims:
- To provide a communication channel to link academics, community sector, policy makers and those in professional practice with an interest in self-harm and suicide research.
- To bring together existing expertise within suicide and self-harm research, in order to work as effectively as possible.
- To ensure research efforts are strategically targeted and implemented effectively, according to the needs of those directly affected.
- To connect and collaborate with international researchers specialising in self-harm and suicide prevention.
- To sustain capacity building through developing Early Career Researchers to become experts in suicide and self-harm research.
- To support evidence-based suicide prevention training for practitioners.
- To support suicide prevention policy and practice in the workplace.
- To support evaluation and quality improvement practices.
- To create a collaborative voice, that can help to communicate priorities to cross-departmental working groups in NI Assembly.
- To encourage relevant and timely evidence-based policy development and implementation.