The second day of the 2019 National Suicide Prevention Conference tackled knowledge translation, leadership and collaboration opening with a plenary session from Suicide Prevention Program Manager from the Black Dog Institute, Ms Davina Dressler.
Chaired by Suicide Prevention Australia’s Alan Woodward, the session explored the challenges and learnings from 30 suicide prevention trials around Australia, which use a systems approach from the evidence-based LifeSpan framework.
Interesting points raised included looking at how pharmacists can play a role in suicide prevention and their uniquely placed position to intervene and support intervention.
This session was followed by a moving reflection ceremony touching on the complexity of lived experience and collective support, which comes from being united in action across suicide prevention.
The following plenary session focused on policy reforms for suicide prevention and included an impressive panel of more than nine speakers including The Hon John Dawkins MLC, South Australian Premier’s Advocate for Suicide Prevention, Dr Margaret Grigg from National Suicide Prevention Implementation Strategy, Lucy Brogden from the National Mental Health Commission, Queensland Health, the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and the South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network.
The big discussion highlights from the concurrent streams throughout the afternoon included the viability and advantages of digital solutions and connections for those who are vulnerable to suicide.
Qualitative findings around a number of pilots including an online peer youth social forum and a tailored digital social platform for youth prompted discussion around the potential for cyber psychology to connect young people to care using traditional online social platforms.
It also highlighted the positive impact online forums can have on youth mental health and how forums are uniquely positioned to service the immediate need of young people, with much still needing to be investigated.
Questions touched around the potential for the application or role that Artificial Intelligence can play in supporting the identification of warning signs of suicidal behaviour, with more work yet to be done in this area.
Lived experience once again was featured consistently across the streams, with Roses in the Ocean CEO Bronwen Edwards providing a timely reminder that the voice of lived experience has relevance in every context and every setting.
“Lived experience has the ability to inform, enhance, empower and support suicide prevention communication in every setting, online or otherwise,” Ms Edwards said.
Suicide prevention research data was a popular discussion topic with many attending the Australian Bureau of Statistics presentation on psychosocial risk factors for coroner-referred suicide deaths.
National Mental Health Commission Chair Lucy Brogden mentioned earlier in the day that data will always be an important building block for all the work being done in suicide prevention.
“It’s the unsexy part of the work, but let’s not forget data is of critical importance to the work that we all do,” Ms Brogden said.
Men and their mental health got many delegates talking via #NSPC19 with a stream dedicated to this topic chaired by Movember’s Brendan Maher.
Tania King from University of Melbourne presented a subset of data from the Ten to Men study and explored the role of masculinity in suicidal ideation using a large population study.
Discussion centred on how the research suggested that self-reliance, violence and heterosexual norms were associated with suicidal ideation in adolescent boys.
Sandra Moran shared her lived experience story of losing her son to suicide through a moving presentation, sharing how she has channelled her lived experience into action and emphasised the risk and protective factors for suicide in men.
Ryder Jack from Tomorrow Man shared some of the ways that he engages men through workshops in sporting clubs, schools and workplaces, which challenge the stereotypes and norms that men place on themselves.
Completing an impressive 500 workshops in the past year alone, Mr Jack spoke of the difference between how men view themselves as a mate and how comfortable they are to have conversations.
He explained that while men feel that they are there for their mates, many don’t feel they could talk to their mates if they had a mental health issue and many feel that they need better quality relationships.
Dr Marisa Schlichthorst from the University of Melbourne got people talking about the role of masculinity in the suicidality of men over 80.
She highlighted that the highest rates of suicide in Australia are men over 85 years with risk factors in older men including social isolation, loss of a partner, depression, physical illness and chronic pain as well as cognitive decline.
A popular session in the afternoon proved to be again the lived experience stream with some excellent presentations about the key ingredients needed for growing a community response to suicide prevention which was presented by the Macedon Ranges Suicide Prevention Action Group.
Showcasing how the group is founded by individuals with lived experience, they spoke about the importance of inclusion of lived experience commenting that lived experience can withstand the heat that’s why we’re in the kitchen.
One of the sessions which was a bit left of centre and provided an interesting insight into how to engage a local community in the amplification of help-seeking was the presentation from the Whyalla Suicide Prevention Network.
The network is working on a project in partnership with Country South Australia Primary Health Network, the Department of Health and the Whyalla City Council to develop the ‘world’s biggest comic book’ in partnership with local artists.
Covering over 15 walls throughout the community, the project will be installed for over six months and will focus on connection, help-seeking, being active, taking notice and giving to others.
Share your highlights from today using the #NSPC19 hashtag via Twitter and include if you have been one of the lucky recipients of the National Communications Charter KeepCups.
Visit the Life in Mind NSPC landing page for more insight around discussions, quotes, highlights, videos and social media commentary from day one of the 2019 National Suicide Prevention Conference: www.lifeinmindaustralia.com.au/NSPC-2019