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Atlanta 2015

Co-hosted with Wendy Farmer and BHL

On September 21 and 22, 2015, 52 individuals representing 13 countries gathered at the Capital City Club in Atlanta, Georgia as part of the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) conference to jointly craft an International Declaration for Zero Suicide in Healthcare. UK Professor Jo Smith facilitated the meeting, utilizing the same successful format as the St. Vincent and Newcastle Declarations.

“International declarations that articulate core values, goals, and standards have played an important role in enhancing the quality of care in a number of areas of medicine,” begins the 2005 British Journal of Psychiatry review of the second-generation effort led by David Shiers and Jo Smith.

In 2014, Professor Smith joined 15 individuals from the New Zealand, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, the UK, and the United States in Oxford, UK for the first-ever international summit on Zero Suicide. It was during this meeting that she shared her experience in 2002 utilizing the “blue sky” consensus declaration model for early intervention services, and how she and other leaders borrowed the approach from a diabetes initiative from a decade earlier.

The purpose of the Atlanta IIMHL match meeting was to complete a document that might influence all the nation states with a comprehensive suicide prevention plan to adopt the principles that will make suicide care a central focus for behavioral health and integrated healthcare systems.

It’s also designed to fan the flames of an emerging social movement related to Zero Suicide in Healthcare. In truth, misconceptions abound: what it is, what it is not, and how it began.

Special thanks to Jan Mokkenstorm and Sue Murray who provided invaluable support in developing the Atlanta 2015 product, “Zero Suicide: International Declaration for Better Healthcare” and to the speakers and sponsors who made it possible.

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