Suicide prevention conference draws large attendance

17 October 2012

More than 420 people from New Zealand and overseas attended a highly successful satellite conference on suicide prevention.

Professor G Luke Larkin, Lion Foundation Chair of Emergency Medicine, and Dr Annette Beautrais, Senior Research Fellow at  the South Auckland Clinical School, hosted the one-day seminar, which featured a total of 16 national and international speakers.

Opening speaker was Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister's Science Advisor. Plenary speakers included Professor Eric Caine from the University of Rochester, NY, who heads the only USA Injury Centre focused on suicide prevention, and Professor Helen Christensen from the Black Dog  Institute and the University of New South Wales, who leads the  Australian Centre for Research Excellence in  suicide research and prevention.

Both emphasised the need for multicompartmental, evidence-based suicide prevention strategies as well as the need for continuing evaluation of all suicide prevention programmes.

Paul Kelly, from Dublin, Ireland, whose sister died by suicide ten years ago, spoke movingly of how his tragic loss had compelled him to found the national organisation,  Console, which now provides a range a range of professional counselling, support, helpline, educational and training programmes all across Ireland.

New Zealand speakers included the Director of Mental Health, Dr John Crawshaw, and Di Grennell from Te Puni Kokiri, as well as University of Otago and University of Auckland researchers who discussed New Zealand research, providing Maori and Pacific perspectives, and introducing some innovative e-health and acute care prevention programmes.

The conference  was highly successful, with many requests from participants for a scientific meeting on suicide to become an annual occurrence.