The final day of the 2019 National Suicide Prevention Conference might have had a slightly later start but it proved to be one of the busiest days with discussions touching on an extensive range of topics including post-vention, intervention, research, lived experience and community engagement and awareness.
Popular concurrent streams included the suicide prevention research stream, which delved into evaluation and how research can contribute to advancements in suicide prevention.
Research presentations opened with insight via an academic lens from Professor Jane Pirkis, Dr Lennart Reifels, Dr Karl Andriessen and Dr Marisa Schlichthorst from the University of Melbourne and Dr Karolina Krysinska Orygen and The University of Melbourne.
Help-seeking and the impact of strategic community engagement was a population topic with research findings of the ‘Pause.Call.Be Heard’ campaign from Lifeline and Rail Suicidal Incidents in Victoria presentation discussed by Dr Lennart Reifels from the University of Melbourne.
Findings indicated that the campaign was effective in encouraging help-seeking intentions and behaviours.
Initial evaluation suggested that the findings will contribute to building the evidence-base for promotional interventions and support wider implementation.
The Mental Health Commission Lunch which was hosted by Commissioner Lucy Brogden and CEO Christine Morgan attracted a full room of participants, keen to share and learn about the vision for mental health and suicide prevention in 2030.
Both Mrs Brogden and Ms Morgan shared insights and feedback from the community consultation process which is currently underway gathering feedback from 26 different communities nationally on the state of mental health care.
According to Ms Morgan who is also the National Suicide Prevention Adviser for the Department of the Prime Minister said that we need to unpack the way we approach mental health.
“With physical health we talk about broken bones, cardiac, flu, pneumonia but with mental health we put it in this big bucket and I think we do ourselves a disservice doing this,” Ms Morgan said.
Discussion and comments in the lunch time session focused on sharing some of challenges facing communities, individuals and families across the country including barriers to help-seeking and important projections for 2030.
Many questions were raised around how to support, educate and empower people to recognise when they need help and how to tackle support for individuals who have genuine complex needs that require service from multiple parts of the health service.
The closing comments from the 2019 National Suicide Prevention Conference concluded in a similar vein to what they started, with a significant national spotlight placed on suicide prevention with the speech from the National Suicide Prevention Advisor to the Prime Minister’s Department, Ms Christine Morgan.
Ms Morgan discussed the strategy for how she and her team will tackle suicide prevention nationally, including the appointment of Everymind Director Jaelea Skehan to head up the cross portfolio team and support Ms Morgan in her role.
In addressing the room Ms Skehan said she felt privileged to be able to step into a role that will further the implementation of a whole of government approach to suicide prevention.
“Suicide prevention needs to be nowhere else but in the Prime Minister’s office,” Ms Skehan said.
Another highlight during the closing of the day was the fireside chat with a panel of key speakers who spoke about what united action looks like moving forward post conference.
Associate Professor Phil Batterham shared some interesting comments indicating that the sector doesn’t all have to agree in order to collaborate.
“United in action doesn’t mean we have to agree, do the same things, or do everything all at the same time,” Prof Batterham said.
“What it does mean is having the right conversations with the right people across silos.
“Take the best evidence we have and use it in a way that works for the end user.”
Dr Alys King-Cole who was a popular speaker during the conference said she’d like to see a democratisation when it comes to how we approach suicide prevention and mental health.
“In academia, we need democratisation when it comes to lived experience, everyone has the right to keep themselves safe and keep others safe and we need to move beyond saving someone’s life and make their life worth living, we need to start there.”
In the concluding vote of thanks for the conference Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray thanked everyone for their contribution to the conference, including Life in Mind.
“The quality of the conference would not be the same without the support of the Life in Mind team and the support of the National Communications Charter Hub.”