Breaking Down Walls and Building Bridges: International Congress for Suicide Prevention

A delegation from Australia, including the Prime Minister’s Suicide Prevention Adviser, Ms Christine Morgan, attended a major international suicide prevention conference in Northern Ireland last week.

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The Prime Minister’s Suicide Prevention Adviser, Ms Christine Morgan, attended the International Congress for Suicide Prevention in Northern Ireland last week.

The theme of the conference was “Breaking Down Walls and Building Bridges”. More than 850 delegates from 57 countries attended.  

Australia’s delegation included researchers and a range of people with personal and professional interest in suicide prevention.

Ms Morgan said it was important to share knowledge from Australia and to learn from approaches taken in other countries.

“This was a great opportunity to learn about the best available research in suicide prevention, new and innovative policy approaches and the ways that lived experience and lived expertise is being used to drive reform,” Ms Morgan said.

“A number of keynote presentations were delivered by Australians, highlighting the strong knowledge base we have to drive suicide prevention planning and practice.

“Suicide and suicidal behaviour has a significant impact on our communities in Australia and communities across the world. Given the cultural and geographic diversity we have in Australia, there is much to be learnt from a knowledge exchange with international colleagues.

“At this conference I heard how important it is to ensure that those who are suicidal get the right types of care and support based on best available evidence. But I have also heard a strong message about the importance of understanding suicide in a social and cultural context, with the need to address the whole range of contributing factors that may lead to suicidal thinking.

“As we work towards zero suicides in Australia we need to enhance what we are currently doing, but also look for opportunities to broaden our approach. We need to address the social determinants contributing to suicidal distress, ensure those in distress get an effective and compassionate response, as well as engaging and mobilising our communities.”

Also representing Australia at the conference were National Mental Health Commissioners and co-chairs of the Expert Advisory Group for suicide prevention, Ms Lucy Brodgen and Mr Alan Woodward.  Ms Jaelea Skehan, who leads the cross-government taskforce established to support the role of the Adviser also attended.

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