Highlights from the IASP World Congress 2021 - Day 2

Posted 23rd September 2021 in IASP 31st World Congress

The Life in Mind team collated five highlights from the IASP World Congress on Day 2 and has presented them here in no particular order.

  • Dr Vikram Patel, Professor at Harvard Medical School, talked about the strong evidence linking adverse childhood experience with suicide ideation later in life. In the keynote titled Preventing youth suicide: a global health priority, Dr Patel reminded the congress about the many threats and risks that young people face in their transition to adulthood: the risk of sexual assault, the negative influences of social media, concern about environmental collapse, and intergenerational trauma, particularly for Indigenous youth.
  • Dr Leilani Darwin of the Black Dog Institute spoke about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre, and its work to conduct a yarning circle online and develop the report “We are strong, we are resilient, but we are tired: Voices from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre Yarning Circles Report”. Dr Darwin said: “Our people struggle because they don’t feel valued or heard. Our people feel lesser – they don’t feel they are seen as accomplished or have as many achievements. I tell people that the expertise you bring with your lived experience is invaluable. You’ve paid an incredible price to have that lived experience. We are going to bring these people to the table to be heard, to be able to shift things. When everyone participates genuinely – we will be able to work together to address the serious issues.”
  • Dr Stephen Scott, National Partnerships Manager at Standby Support After Suicide, presented his final recommendations on the Towards Zero Suicides initiatives. Dr Scott encouraged delegates working to develop new models, to locate suicide prevention initiatives outside the mental health system – but ensure suicide prevention is a central priority of the system. A shift was required to think of suicidal crisis as situational distress rather than mental illness, he said, while advocating for stronger co-design and co-production of non-clinical services.
  • Professor Jane Pirkis of the University of Melbourne introduced the Buoy Project - seven randomised control trials to evaluate interventions that will target boys and men where they live, work and play. Prof Pirkis noted an interesting finding from Ten to Men: The Australian Longitudinal Study on Male Health. After controlling for known key male suicide predictors (e.g. alcohol and drug use, job loss and relationship breakdown), the characteristic of self-reliance stood out as a risk factor for suicidal thinking for men in the study. This suggests that societally imposed masculine norms and qualities such as self-reliance and stoicism may counteract men seeking help.
  • Dr Zac Seidler of the Movember Foundation and Orygen highlighted that while the rate of male help seeking when in suicidal distress has increased from 32% to 50% in the past 15 years, the rate of male suicide has increased at a similar rate. He noted the finding from his research that reaching out for help is often a last-minute effort by men in crisis before suicide. This suggests we may have just one chance to help men when they reach out, so we need to make sure this help meets their needs. Dr Seidler is behind the Men in Mind program, funded by Movember, and part of the Buoy Project that is an online training program for mental health professionals to better engage and meet the needs of male clients.

The Life in Mind team’s coverage of the IASP World Congress continues on Twitter. Follow for live updates @LifeinMindAU

The full programme can be downloaded via the IASP website.