The Life in Mind team spoke to Bronwen Edwards, CEO at Roses in the Ocean, who shared her highlights from the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) 31st World Congress in September.
Tell us your key areas of interest?
Lived experience of suicide and the meaningful integration of lived experience in every aspect of suicide prevention through Whole of Government, Whole of Community approach.
What was one key lesson from overseas experience that you feel could inform Australia’s ongoing reform and approach to suicide prevention?
The keynote on Preventing Female Suicide and Self-Harm provided three exceptional presentations. The insights shared from Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar regarding key risk factors for females in low and middle income countries have much to offer us here in Australia, as we face the fact that the majority of suicide attempts are made by women. This point is often overshadowed by other very worthy priority populations and the fact that more men die by suicide. However, we do need to focus more on the risk factors seen in other parts of the world such as marriage breakdowns, unwanted pregnancy, violence in the home as a way of reducing the attempts made by women.
Volunteer workforces are valuable and offer a low cost option for service delivery. In Australia, particularly from the mental health sector, volunteer workforces are frowned upon and yet amongst people with lived experience of suicide, many want to volunteer. Sandra McNally’s presentation on their volunteer based model of postvention shows the enormous benefits for everyone involved. We are trialling a volunteer model through our Peer CARE Connect services and hope to prove the same benefits here in Australia, and help to shift the perspectives around this valuable resource.
Was there anything surprising (innovation, findings, etc.) you learned from the conference?
The most wonderful thing about the World Congress was how all presenters embraced lived experience of suicide. With 100 people with lived experience of suicide receiving bursaries to attend the event there was always going to be a strong presence but what surprised me was how far the research community has come internationally in their readiness to acknowledge, embrace, and include people with lived experience in their work and identify the critical role lived experience must play moving forward in suicide prevention. It was fabulous!
“Some of the most effective new approaches to responding to people experiencing suicidal crisis globally have been developed through genuine collaboration between traditional & #livedexperience experts” - our CEO @Brony_Edwards speaks at the opening of #IASPGOLDCOAST2021— Roses in the Ocean (@RosesInTheOcean) September 21, 2021