Ghanaian psychologist wins international award on suicide prevention research

Ghanaian psychologist wins international award on suicide prevention research

Dr. Emmanuel Nii-Boye Quarshie, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Ghana and a Leeds International Research Scholar in Psychology and Suicidology, has received the 2021 prestigious De Leo Fund Award by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP).

The De Leo Fund Award is a global recognition of the awardee’s outstanding research on suicidal behaviours carried out in developing countries.

Thus, candidates are usually nominated from low- and middle-income countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, South America and the Caribbean.

This year, the award was presented on Thursday, September 23, 2021, at the 31st IASP World Congress in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Founded in 1960, IASP is the leading international organisation concerned with preventing self-harm and suicide and alleviating their effects. It is in official relations and collaborations with the World Health Organisation (WHO) towards the prevention of suicide around the world.

As an umbrella organisation, IASP embraces members from more than 80 different countries and nearly 50 national and international organisations on all continents.

Dr Quarshie is currently a leading early career researcher in youth self-harm and suicidal behaviours not only in Ghana but across sub-Saharan Africa.

His primary research interests are related to youth self-harm and suicide prevention in Ghana and its sub-Saharan Africa context.

Thus far, his research has focused not only on in-school adolescents and urban youth, but also out-of-school, street-connected and homeless young people, rural-dwelling youth, young people in (post-)conflict and fragile contexts, and youth with disabilities (e.g., deaf adolescents).

He coordinates group debriefing sessions for students who have lost a classmate to suicide and facilitates various key gatekeeper training programmes (for teachers, counsellors, traditional leaders, religious leaders, law enforcement agents, and media practitioners) on children and youth mental health issues.

He is involved in community-based psychoeducation activities and mental health advocacy programmes through local media engagements.

Dr Quarshie is an executive member of the Association for Suicide Prevention Ghana (GASP).

Announcing the winner to the General Assembly of IASP at the 31st World Congress, the Chair of the Award, Professor Diego De Leo, indicated that:

“… for this year’s edition, we received a total of 5 applications, and 3 of them were very good applications. It gives me great pleasure to announce that the winner of this De Leo Fund Award for 2021 is Dr Emmanuel Nii-Boye Quarshie from Ghana… I believe that it was very good to see the five members of the panel expressing unanimous judgement concerning the validity of the candidature of Dr Emmanuel Nii-Boye Quarshie. Congratulations to Emmanuel!”

In his brief acceptance speech upon receiving the 2021 De Leo Fund Award, Dr Quarshie said,

“For me, receiving this Award is a humbling experience but also represents a call to sustained hard work in our field… I wish to dedicate this Award as a passionate appeal to governments and lawmakers across low- and middle-income countries (including my country, Ghana) to consider repealing the anti-suicide laws that they have, in order to make our work and research more meaningful towards saving more lives from suicide.”

This award places Ghana on the world map of suicide prevention research.

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