On 5th April 2005, a car accident took away forever the precious lives of youngsters Nicola e Vittorio De Leo, the children of Cristina and Diego. To commemorate their memory, Diego’s colleagues from the American Association of Suicidology made a donation to the International Association for Suicide Prevention on occasion of the 2005 IASP conference, in Durban, South Africa. The General Assembly of the association agreed unanimously to establish the De Leo Fund . The Board also created the De Leo Fund Award.
Knowing of the international activities of Diego De Leo and his predisposition towards the promotion of suicide prevention in developing countries, the De Leo Fund Award was dedicated to recognize research efforts of young scholars from low income countries. The award is presented biannually, as the other IASP prizes (Stengel, Ringel and Farberow) during the world conference of the association.
The Fund is open to subscribers from across the globe. It aims to give aid to the countries with the greatest need in facing the growing suicide phenomenon. An increase in suicidal behaviours is associated with the globalisation process and political and social unrest, particularly where the traditional economic structure is threatened.
When the De Leo Fund was established the Management Board of IASP comprised, as President: Prof. Brian Mishara (Montreal, Canada), as Vice-Presidents: Prof. Annette Beautrais (New Zealand) and prof. Cornelis Van Heeringen (Belgium)
The NGO ‘DE LEO FUND’ (Italy) came into being at the initiative of some Italian friends of Diego and Cristina, in particular Federica Zoppellaro and Arianna Caldon. Federica and Arianna thought that the Fund must be able to operate in Italy, and especially in Padua, where Nicola and Vittorio had lived. And the Fund has to deal with the aftermath of road accidents.
The panel of Judges which comprise: Prof. Heidi Hielmeland (Norway) Dr. Murad Khan (Pakistan) Dr. Laksmi Vijayakumar (India) and Mrs. Vanda Scott (England) has assigned the first time De Leo Fund Award in 2009 during the XXV International Congress of the IASP in Montevideo. The Award was given to Dr. Alireza Ahmadi (Iran)
In Kuching, Malaysia (18-22 July 2017), during the 29th World Congress of the International Association for Suicide Prevention, Professor De Leo presented the award to Dr. Chan Lai Fong, for her research on gene interaction – environment and socio-cultural influences on suicidal behavior. Dr. Chan Lai Fong has received several awards in the field of research and she is a member of the IASP and the Malaysian Psychiatric Association and a “Junior”; member of the Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology.
In Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland, (17–21 September 2019) during the 30th World Congress of the International Association for Suicide Prevention, Professor Ella Arensman presented the award to Dr. Duleeka Knipe for her studies on the phenomenon of suicide and self-injury in middle and low-income
countries, where 79% of suicides occur worldwide. Dr. Duleeka Knipe works with Bristol Medical School (PHS) and Center for Academic Mental Health.