The Life in Mind team collated five highlights from day four of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) 31st World Congress and presents them here – in no particular order.
- Dr Soumitra Pathare, psychiatrist at the Centre for Mental Health Law and Policy, Indian Law Society, discussed the level of priority of suicide prevention in India, and stated that for young women under 39 years, suicide is the number one cause of death, whereas for men, suicide is the number two cause of death. Three challenges faced in India on suicide prevention interventions, Dr Pathare explained, include lack of data, absence of research evidence, and near total absence of implementation research. He emphasised the importance of educating policy makers on what can be done around suicide prevention.
- Professor Navneet Kapur, Professor of Psychiatry at University of Manchester, presented his findings on suicides rates and how they are decreasing globally by a third. However, he emphasised that the job is not done, with more than 700,000 people still losing their lives by suicide each year. Professor Kapur said that we need to offer interventions as quickly as possible following self-harm, as the highest risk period is within the first month (up to 200 times the suicide risk). So if we want to intervene, we have to get in quickly.
- Dr Margaret Chatoor, Assistant Professor/Psychologist at the University of Trinidad and Tobago discussed the mental health impact of COVID-19 on children and adolescents, and mentioned that alienation from school increases mental illness and social isolation, and those students with underlying depression and anxiety are at increased risk of suicide and suicidal ideation. Global studies relating to children and adolescents during the pandemic indicate the main factors of loneliness and social isolation included the unintended consequence of enforced physical distancing measures; and social anxiety was found to be more strongly associated with loneliness than other anxiety sub-types. Dr Chatoor continued to explain that there is evidence that significant burden of mental illnesses originate in young age, with COVID contributing to an increase. It is more important now than ever before for prevention measures than intervention or postvention measures.
- During a panel discussion with Professor Myfanwy Maple, Professor Nicholas Procter, Dr Jaelea Skehan OAM, Everymind; Ingrid Ozols AM, and facilitated by Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray, a key theme that was discussed was the need for involvement of lived experience in research. From the very beginning of planning, to design, analysis and interpretation as well as communication and translation of results. Those with lived experience need to be involved as equals to lead investigators, and not just as data collectors or ‘tick box’ consultation, for true co-production. In order to achieve this, researchers need to have conversations and foster meaningful, trusting relationships and partnerships with those with lived experience, and value their wisdom, diversity and ways of working.
- Dr Leilani Darwin, researcher from Black Dog Institute, assisted the closing plenary with a focus on lived experience, and discussed the importance of those with the privilege of voice and influence to start listening, and listening to what communities want. She emphasised that what works for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is when people step up and support each other. Leilani proceeded to show a moving lived experience video which can be viewed via YouTube below.