Life in Mind is sharing a series of short interviews with suicide prevention researchers, to provide the sector with an insight into the important work that is being performed across the country.
Life in Mind would like to introduce Dr Karolina Krysinska, PhD, is a Research Fellow at Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health and at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne.
Dr Krysinska is also a Conjoint Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. Dr Karolina Krysinska is an experienced research psychologist, whose main interest is suicide research and prevention, and postvention. Dr Karolina Krysinska is an author of many peer-reviewed publications, book chapters and conference presentations in Australia and internationally.
In 2017, together with Karl Andriessen and Onja Grad, she co-edited “Postvention in Action: The International Handbook of Suicide Bereavement Support”.
I deeply believe that our field of research ultimately aims at saving lives.
What led you to enter research?
To paraphrase the famous Albert Camus’ quote, for me there is only one really serious research problem, and that is suicide. Since the beginning of my work in the field as a research psychologist in the late 1990s, I have been trying to understand what makes people vulnerable to suicide and what may be done to provide help and support they need. Suicidology research gives me an opportunity to gain insights into the workings of the suicidal mind.
It provides me with tools and methods to design and evaluate prevention and postvention options across the lifespan, populations, and settings.
Can you provide a brief overview of your research?
Over the last 25 years I have been involved in a range of research project. These included epidemiology and prevention of suicide on the railways networks in Australia and in Belgium, and limiting access to other means of suicide, a psychological autopsy study on mid- and late-life suicide, suicide and the Internet, including an analysis of online memorials, and postvention. I have done work on protective factors, such as gratitude and spirituality/religiosity, and collaborated on a development of a suicide prevention framework for Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Australians.
For a few years I had an opportunity to work in other fields of research, such as dementia, end of life care, and psychology of religion. This has broadened my research interests and skills, and allowed me to gain a new perspective on suicide and its prevention.
How would you best explain the process of translating research into practice?
One of my suicidology mentors said that the sometimes emotionally challenging suicide research really is about suicide prevention. I deeply believe that our field of research ultimately aims at saving lives. I find it very concerning that there is a gap between research and practice; sometimes researchers and colleagues working in clinical and community settings seem to speak different languages and operate within different paradigms.
A good example is the issue of evaluation of effectiveness of suicide prevention programs. The research golden standard of a randomised controlled trial may not be feasible or applicable, and the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.On the other hand, best intentions do not ensure the best (or even a good) outcome, and the risk of doing harm, such as suicide contagion, is quite substantial in our field.
I am very hopeful about the ongoing conversations with colleagues with lived experience of suicide. I believe their input may help to bridge the “research into practice” gap.