SPA Symposium 2021 Day 1 Highlights

Posted 20th April 2021 in SPA Symposium 2021

The importance of Suicide Prevention Australia’s 2021 Symposium cannot be understated, after the recent challenges of bushfires, COVID-19, floods and cyclones, on top of the existing challenges in mental health and suicide prevention.

The Life in Mind team is attending the symposium to share knowledge from experts from the mental health and suicide prevention sector, research, government, clinicians, organisations and community who are united by one common cause: to prevent suicide deaths in Australia.

A highlight on Day 1 of the Symposium was the public release of the Final Advice from the National Suicide Prevention Adviser, Christine Morgan.

Presenting the Final Advice, Ms Morgan said a “seismic shift” was needed in suicide prevention, which would require a whole-of-governments approach.

The Final Advice consists of three connected reports detailing key enablers and key shifts to drive this connected and compassionate change.

In his address to the symposium, the Hon David Coleman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, said the advice was a “lifesaving opportunity to ensure all government services, not just health services are part of the solution”.

A webinar will be held on Tuesday, 27 April where Ms Morgan will further discuss the Final Advice. Details will be added to the Life in Mind events calendar and social media channels.

Other highlights from Day 1 keynotes included:

The New Zealand experience of suicide prevention and connected and healthy communities

International keynote speaker Carla na Nagara of the Suicide Prevention Office in the Ministry of Health New Zealand, shared her experience of creating New Zealand’s first Suicide Prevention Office. The establishment of the Office has created a shift in the way suicide prevention is addressed. The new approach acknowledges the importance of social determinants and people having their needs met in terms of economic resources, housing, personal safety and social connection. The message was clear that healthy and connected families are the strongest protective factor against suicide for New Zealand.

The critical importance of lived experience to guide suicide prevention activity in Australia

After recognising the importance of lived experience in suicide prevention activity in the symposium welcome, Mark Davis, a lived experience representative, reiterated to delegates the importance of co-design processes that allow for self-reflection throughout the development and implementation of suicide prevention activity.

The cumulative impact of complex, interrelated factors on Indigenous suicide rates

Professor Pat Dudgeon, Director of the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP), shared with delegates the factors impacting suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people including the cumulative impact of ongoing exposure to socio-economic disadvantage, transgenerational trauma, racism and discrimination at individual and institutional system levels and the gap in access to health and mental health services.

Professor Dudgeon spoke of the upcoming CBATSISPEP resource manual, which aims to support translation of Indigenous suicide prevention principles into practice.

Finding new ways to tackle the issue of stigma in mental health and suicide prevention

Day 1 finished with a panel discussion about the impact of stigma on suicide.

Panelists emphasised the power of stigma to stop people from seeking help and its influence in linking mental illness or suicidality with weakness. The panel supported increasing mental health literacy to reduce stigma and tackling stigma at organisation or community level.

The Life in Mind team will be live tweeting the Suicide Prevention Australia 2021 symposium from April 19-22. Follow Life in Mind on Twitter @LifeinMindAU 

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