As a hospital clinical psychologist working in Sikkim, a small Indian state nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, Dr. Sonam Lasopa encountered several patients who had attempted suicide. At the same time, the local media was reporting several cases of death by suicide. Yet, there were no data on the actual suicide prevalence or any researchers trained to conduct studies that may help clinicians understand who may be at risk.
Now, Dr. Lasopa, a graduate of University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions PhD epidemiology program, and Dr. Senthil Reddi, a fellow former trainees of UF’s Fogarty International Center Indo-US Training in Chronic Non-Communicable Disorders & Diseases Across the Lifespan program, will lead a new a statewide program to understand the causes of suicide and suicide attempts among people in Sikkim and develop preventive strategies and interventions to reduce mortality due to suicides.
Members of the Sikkim Suicide Action Prevention Network, or SPAN, Project will conduct research to better understand factors associated with deliberate self-harm, and test the effectiveness of a brief intervention in reducing suicidal behavior delivered by trained counselors.
For Lasopa, the new project is the culmination of several years of research training that began when she traveled to Gainesville to work under the mentorship of Dr. Linda B. Cottler, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Fogarty International Center training program, a dean’s professor of epidemiology and the College of Public Health and Health Professions’ associate dean for research.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on June 14