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Suicide Prevention Conference 2012

Filed under: Boys / Youth / Education,Gender Politics,Men's Health,Sex Abuse / CYF — MurrayBacon @ 1:11 pm Mon 25th June 2012

Dr. Annette Beautrais has returned to NZ and is now employed at
Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, Auckland University, at the Middlemore Hospital Complex.

Friday 28th September 2012
She has organised a Suicide Prevention Conference, to follow on from a World Injury Conference, a few days earlier in Wellington.
(As quite a lot of suicides are hidden among injury deaths, this coincidence is useful towards a coordinated and fuller response to suicide issues.)

The Suicide Prevention 2012 Conference is a tailored educational opportunity for researchers, stakeholders and advocates in suicide prevention in District Health Boards, PHOs, tertiary institutions, schools, and government departments, as well as individuals bereaved by suicide, to learn and participate as leaders and workers in effective collaborations for suicide prevention across the life course

Although several men’s health advocates have questioned how seriously NZ Government takes men’s suicide issues, where there is life, there is hope!
[Apologies for my sick, sick, sick sense of humour…] Old issue Men Devalued in Suicide Strategy


Professor Sir Peter Gluckman

Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor

Peter was the founding Director of the Liggins Institute in Auckland and is one of New Zealand’s best known scientists. His research has won him numerous awards and international recognition including Fellowship of The Royal Society (London) and election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science (USA) and the Academy of Medical Sciences of Great Britain. In 2009 he became a Knight of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to medicine. In July 2009 he was appointed as the first Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand. Professor Sir Gluckman is an international advocate for science, promoting the translation of discoveries in biomedical research into improvements in long term health outcomes. Evidence based Policy Evidence is easily swept away by Sympathy

Professor Eric Caine (John Romano Professor of Psychiatry and Chair, Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY)

“Suicide prevention: Confronting public health challenges.”

Medically trained at Harvard and Massachusetts Mental Health Centre, Eric pursued postdoctoral research at the US National Institute of Mental Health. Initial research interests focused primarily on substance abuse treatment, suicide, and end-of-life issues. Later in his career, he became interested in “neuropsychiatry’, researching the relationships between organized brain functioning and behavioral disorders.

Suicide research and prevention has now emerged as Eric’s central interest for investigation, where he has been able to collaborate throughout the US and internationally. This is an area where it has been possible to integrate biological, psychological, pathological, social, cultural, public health, and international perspectives in a single problem focus of reducing the mortality and morbidity of suicide.

From the 1970s to the mid-1990s, his clinical work involved inpatient general psychiatry and neuropsychiatry, general outpatient psychiatry and psychopharmacology consultation, and specialty work in geriatrics and neuropsychiatry. However, his favourite role is as an educator; specifically, working as a mentor with post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty. Eric’s greatest personal career rewards in medicine, in addition to those related to patient care, have come from supporting this developmental process and seeing several generations of faculty emerge in their own right as outstanding researchers, educators, and clinicians.
Paul Kelly (Founder and CEO of the NGO, CONSOLE Ireland)

“The Legacy of Suicide – Reflecting on the Past, Present and Future of Console, an Irish Postvention Charity”

Paul Kelly founded Console ( in 2002 following the death of his younger sister Sharon, through suicide. This tragic loss compelled Paul to develop a national Service in Ireland, providing Professional Counselling, Support and Helpline Services to those specifically Bereaved through Suicide. Ten years on, Console now delivers a wide range of free and accessible Counselling, Psychotherapeutic and Helpline services from Centres all across Ireland. The organisation also has a comprehensive portfolio of Suicide Prevention, Postvention and awareness resources, Training and Educational Programmes. In 2011, Console was commissioned by the Irish State to draft a set of quality standards for any organisation or individual providing (or intending to provide) a Suicide Bereavement Service. Published this year by the Minister for Health, the framework benchmarks and standardises postvention work in line with wider National strategies on Suicide Prevention.

In addition to his work in Console, Paul is a Director of the Irish Association of Suicidology ( and Co-Founder/Director of the 1Life Suicide Prevention Helpline (, Ireland’s only 24 hour, freephone crisis helpline service. Paul was recipient of the 2006 Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Ireland. The following year Paul received a Passion for the World Award from the South Dublin Chamber of Commerce and in 2008, Paul was also presented with the prestigious International Princess Grace Humanitarian Award by Prince Albert II in Monaco.
Dr John Crawshaw (Director of Mental Health)

“The policy context for suicide prevention in New Zealand”

Dr Crawshaw took up the position of Director and Chief Advisor of Mental Health in November 2011. He is the Government’s principal advisor on Mental Health and is responsible for fulfilling several key statutory functions. He has extensive experience in a range of Mental Health services gained from working in the health system in both Australia and New Zealand. Previous to this role John was CEO of Statewide and Mental Health Services in Tasmania, Australia where his responsibilities included overseeing Tasmania’s state-run Mental Health Services, Forensic Health Services (incorporating Forensic Mental Health and Correctional Primary Health Services), Alcohol and Drug Services and the Health and Well Being Services (Oral Health Services and Cancer Screening and Control). He was also the Chief Forensic Psychiatrist at the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services. John has also held various senior management roles at Capital Coast Health including Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, General Manager (Mental Health Elderly & Disability Services) and Strategic Advisor to the Chief Executive.

Di Grennell

(Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri, Ngai Tahu) is the Director of Operations, Whānau & Social Policy Wāhanga at Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry of Māori Development. Te Puni Kōkiri is the lead agency for Whānau Ora. Whānau Ora is designed to build whānau capability and whānau-centred services. Di is a mother, step-mother, and proud grandmother of six mokopuna. She had a background in family violence prevention, social services education, and iwi and Māori provider development prior to joining Te Puni Kōkiri in 2010.

Professor Helen Christensen

“eHealth and Suicide Prevention: What we know?”

Helen Christensen is Executive Director of the Black Dog Institute and a Professor of Mental Health at the University of New South Wales, a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Principal Research Fellow, a member of the Academy of Social Sciences, Australia, the President of the Australasian Society for Psychiatric Research, and the immediate past President of the International Society for Research in Internet Interventions. She is recognized as an international leader in epidemiology, public mental health and e health. She has over 300 research publications, and has produced a number of e mental health web applications, including MoodGYM, which is used by over 450,000 individuals globally as a means of lowering depression. She has received over 8 state and national awards for her work in providing e health services directly to consumers through the web.

As Director of the Black Dog Institute, Helen aims to facilitate the Black Dog’s mission to lower depression in the community by providing the highest quality information, assessment, clinical and prevention services. The Black Dog Institute aims to be the best translational facility in Australia for Mood Disorders. She also endeavors to continue to build the research capability of the Black Dog Institute and to develop a critical mass of researchers whose research interests focus on the implementation of proven mental health programs.
Professor Jane Pirkis

Professor Jane Pirkis is the Director of the Centre for Health Policy, Programs and Economics at the University of Melbourne. She has undertaken abroad program of work on the epidemiology of suicide and mental health problems, and has conducted a number of large-scale evaluations of suicide prevention initiatives and mental health programs. She currently holds a National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellowship that is funding a program of work around evaluating specific suicide prevention interventions.
Professor David M. Fergusson

“The Role of Social Family and Personal Factors in the development of Suicidal Behaviours : Results of a 30 year longitudinal study”

For the last 35 years, Professor David Fergusson has been the Principal Investigator and Executive Director of the Christchurch Health and Development Study (CHDS) which is an internationally renowned longitudinal study of a birth cohort of 1,265 New Zealand children born in mid-1977. This cohort has now been studied from birth to age 30. Professor Fergusson is the author of over 380 scientific articles and books. His recent work has included research into: childhood sexual and physical abuse; family violence; youth unemployment; teenage pregnancy; juvenile delinquency; substance abuse; and youth mental health. His major research interests are the design and analysis of correlational studies and the study of personal adjustment in adolescence/young adulthood. He is also actively involved in the development and evaluation of the Christchurch based Early Start programme and is currently working with the Ministries of Social Development, Health and Education on the evaluation of the Incredible Years parent programme. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, honorary fellow of the New Zealand Psychological Society and honorary fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. He is also the recipient of the University of Otago Distinguished Research Medal.

Professor Gregory Luke Larkin (The Lion Foundation Chair of Emergency Medicine, The University of Auckland)

“The Emergency Department is an under-utilised site for suicide prevention”

Professor G Luke Larkin is the Lion Foundation Chair of Emergency Medicine at the University of Auckland. He is a clinician investigator with research interests in clinical emergency medicine, biostatistics, injury prevention, bioethics, and psychiatric emergencies. His current focus is studying neuropsychiatric aspects of trauma, disaster, intimate partner violence, stress and suicide. He is also interested in m-health interventions to reduce hospital admissions. He is Co-Chair of the International Association for Suicide Prevention Task Force on Suicide and Emergency Medicine, a Fellow of the International Academy for Suicide Research, and holds an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Distinguished Investigator Award. Dr Larkin publishes prolifically, and his administrative responsibilities include promoting excellence in research, scholarship and knowledge translation amongst emergency medicine faculty and residents.
Professor Sally Merry

“Digital solutions for digital natives”

Professor Sally Merry is a child and adolescent psychiatrist and is Head of the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Auckland. She established the Werry Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health at the University and is now the Director of Research at the Centre. Sally Chairs the New Zealand Branch of the Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Sally’s main area of research the use of computers and mobile phones to deliver interventions for adolescent depression including SPARX, an effective computerised treatment for depression and a winner in the World Summit Awards for eHealth intervention, and Memo, a multimedia, mobile phone programme to prevent teenage depression.

Dr Shyamala Nada-Raja

“The development and evaluation of an internet-based depression treatment programme.”

Dr Shyamala Nada-Raja is a Senior Research Fellow and Principal Investigator for a research programme on longitudinal and intervention studies that has a public health focus on the prevention of intentional injury and common mental disorders. She is based at the the Injury Prevention Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, at the University of Otago. Her publications and current research interests focus on the epidemiology of self-harm, suicidal behaviours, mental health and positive development in the internationally renowned Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, and web-based interventions to address depression, self-harm, violence and related problems in the general population.
Dr Jemaima Tiatia

“A Pacific Response to Suicidal Behaviours”

Dr Jemaima Tiatia is a Research Fellow at the University of Auckland’s Centre for Pacific Studies where she is currently undertaking HRC-funded post-doctoral research. This work builds upon her previous HRC-funded doctoral work “Reasons to Live: NZ-born Samoan young people’s responses to suicidal behaviours’ (2003) and the project “Pacific Youth Emergency Department Suicide Study’ (2000). Her current research – “Suicide and Samoans: The Journey towards Prevention’ involves the views of Samoans engaged in Pacific mental health/community services who have attempted suicide and/or have thought about it. It also examines factors this population sample believes will assist in appropriate and effective prevention strategies and positive future health and wellbeing for Samoan people and, potentially, for Pacific communities.
Sandra Palmer

“The Community Postvention Response Service – Experiences and challenges of New Zealand’s national Suicide cluster response service”

Sandra Palmer is the Clinical Manager of CASA’s Community Postvention Response Service (CPRS). The CPRS comprises a national team with expertise in postvention and their role is to support communities when there are emerging or actual suicide clusters or suicide contagion. This service is funded by the Ministry of Health. Sandra has been working in the postvention area for six years and has a strong belief in the notion of postvention being a strong suicide prevention tool. She also works in the field of suicide prevention as part of the Towards Wellbeing programme funded by CYFS (Child Youth and Family Services) in New Zealand, also under CASA’s umbrella of services. Her current roles combine her clinical passions – working in postvention, working with communities and focusing on the wellbeing of young people and youth. She graduated from the University of Auckland in 1992 with a MA (Hons) in Psychology.
Eliza Snelgar

Eliza Snelgar is Cultural Advisor to the CPRS team, and has a wealth of experience in Secondary and Primary Health Services including Maori and Pacific Island PHOs, NGOs and Maori Health Trusts. The CPRS is a Ministry of Health-funded national team with expertise in postvention and their role is to support communities when there are emerging or actual suicide clusters. Sandra and Eliza will describe the experiences and challenges of responding to suicide clusters.
Although this website has a generous supply of moaners, contributing to gloom and doom and hopelessness for all, it is important that we act to encourage and support forward movement on all of these issues. Maybe the destructive forces are loud and well publicised, lets actively support the quieter positive forces.

Of course I don’t like the negative approach as “Suicide Prevention Conference”.

I would prefer to support “Positive Community Mental Health”, which would take away people’s [men’s] reasons and needs for self destruction and support us to understand our value to ourselves and the wider community. We shouldn’t encourage the view of men as just providers, taking for granted fathers as nurturers and not acknowledging men as nurturers publicly. As men, I suggest that we cultivate a more resilient life positive culture. We could be more than just our competition for women, can we put positive value on ourselves and each other?

Suicide Prevention suggests having more hospital emergency services and down the road more funeral directors where you take the suicided men’s bodies. You can talk to the bodies and the men considering suicide until you are out of breath and be safe that you haven’t increased demand for support services. Suicide Prevention can be just recording possible suicides as industrial accidents.

Positive mental health communicates to men, from toddlerhood to ancient, that men should help others and likewise be comfortable and willing to accept help in their own times of need, which in life will surely occur. This is talking, before the veil of silence has descended and it becomes too late to lift the still warm and live body up.

How can I give my boys self-value, if I don’t truly have it myself?
Anyway, who is scared of a few tears?

MurrayBacon – axe murderer…… I can’t wash off the blood.


  1. Sounds interesting Murray, Keep me in touch please.

    Comment by Gwaihir — Mon 25th June 2012 @ 2:43 pm

  2. I attended Annette Beautrais’ Suicide Prevention Conference today. The conference was shifted from Middlemore Hospital to Ellerslie Events Centre, at the racecourse. Almost 400 people attended, predominantly clinicians and social workers and predominantly women. I make this unfortunate observation, not as a criticism of the people who turned up, but as a criticism of men concerned about suicide, who did not turn up. The most boring thing in the world, is men moaning about suicide issues, but not actually doing something about it somewhere.

    My comments below are rather focussed towards younger middle aged men’s suicides, in line with NZ’s suicide statistics. As such, I haven’t done full justice to the full breadth and originality of the speeches.

    Professor Sir Peter Gluckman discussed our evolutionary heritage and how it set us up for a different environment to that which we live in today. He detailed the social environment changes and their recent history and suggested how we might improve our coping skills to handle these changes. He recommended looking more carefully at evidence, before making policy decisions.

    Professor Eric Caine spoke and noted the large numbers of younger middle aged men in suicide statistics, but that in USA spending was more focussed on youth suicide, due to congressmen having children who had completed suicide. He alluded to spending being based on what politicians could believe in the suicide statistics, rather than the statistics themselves. I guess this (and emergency room viewpoint) is the largest driver in blind eyeing middle aged men’s suicides.

    He didn’t actually speak about why men completed suicide, rather than ask for help, but the dynamic was briefly mentioned. He suggested that clinicians ought to consider reasons that patients hadn’t found services useful and try to solve these issues. If patients haven’t been helped in the long term, but just helped out the hospital door, then they shouldn’t really be considered helped! He also pointed out that when initiatives are aimed at groups who contribute relatively little to overall suicides, then the maximum possible reduction in overall suicide statistics will consequently be small.

    Accordingly, the failure to look at younger middle aged men’s suicide issues, who contribute the most to the suicide total, results in disappointingly small reductions in suicide totals. I was very impressed by his straightforward and practical approach.

    Paul Kelly, the founder and CEO of Console in Ireland spoke poignantly of his experience of losing his youngest sister to suicide. He had a very pleasant irish accent. He spoke of the initial difficulties to get health professionals and politicians to realistically face the real world consequences of suicide, but that now Console was receiving solid Government and social support.

    Professor Gregory Luke Larkin discussed the high level of medical need among many presenters to Emergency Department for suicide attempt restoration and mental health need among presenters for physical emergency. By treating occult or not discussed issues, as well as the presenting issues, greatly improved the life expectancy and quality of outcomes could be achieved. This discussion mimicked the issues of treatment non-seeking / refusal of many suicidal ideators (mainly men, but also a large number of women or girls too), but he didn’t actually discuss the “outside of hospital” refusal to seek help issue. This was the elephant in the room.

    He mentioned culture and noted that although there is much discussion is about indigenous culture, european’s have culture and it too needs to be looked closely at, for its contribution to suicide, through social disconnection, poor self esteem, poor help seeking motivation and many issues.

    Dr. John Crawshay had a smooth australian accent and spoke the way we have come to expect doctors and NZ researchers to discuss suicide, that is rather politically correctly, youth, women and emergency room focussed, but turning away from what the statistics say about younger middle aged men’s departures from NZ.

    Associate Professor Sally Merry spoke about SPARX eHealth treatment and how it was put together. She discussed its effectiveness for youth, especially for the large number who greatly valued anonymity, as not possible through public hospital treatment. These factors seemed to make this style of treatment more accessible for young men in particular.

    Di Grennell sung the words written by a youth who had committed suicide, in a prison context. This was a wakeup to listeners and matched the sadness and sharpness of Paul Kelley’s speech. She discussed indigenous culture and using it to persuade communities to face their individual and collective problems.

    Professor David M. Fergusson discussed drawing conclusions from research studies, causality, common causes and applying these lessons in to social policy. He suggested it is better to try to apply these lessons and fail a bit, than to fail to try to apply lessons into policy, which is what we seem to be doing generally.

    Professor Helen Christensen spoke about using internet communication, to access people perhaps unwilling (stigmatised) to approach a human office based therapist. She discussed several research studies claiming greater measured success for eHealth initiatives, than for clinicians. She discussed how traditional clinician skills were included into the computerised treatments. She also discussed researchers going over older studies and trying to make the available data useful for meta-analyses, to gain as much knowledge from earlier work as possible. She was the only clinician to include an element of personal Lived Experience. To me, this gave greater credibility, that she was prepared to consider this viewpoint, to add to the vantage points that she had available.

    Professor Simon Hatcher ex Auckland spoke about trials of outpatient treatments for people who had been hospitalised after self harm. He spoke of the moderate degree of success that had been shown, in reducing re-admissions and increasing life expectancy, using eHealth style interventions.

    As the day outside grew wetter, greyer, bleaker and darker, the total weight of creativity and optimism only lifted.

    Dr Shyamala Nada-Raja discussed eHealth design projects carried out in NZ, based on Professor Helen Christensen’s work in Australia.

    Sandra Palmer and Eliza Snelgar discussed helping communities cope with and reduce ongoing risks after cluster suicides of youth. Clusters could be considered up to a year apart, in one social community. (Suicides in the compulsed environment of familycaught$ were not discussed.)

    Dr Jemaima Tiatia discussed the stresses that the Samoan immigrant community are subject to, their challenges to best handle and survive these stresses and her work to research these issues.

    There was no discussion about careless deaths, not reported as suicide.

    I left the conference with much increased optimism about these treatment issues, but pained by the failure of men in general to own up to these problems and to mentor men to seek and accept treatment. There is some good help available, among the sources of help. Anyway, I am keeping my axes for my own escape, just in case.

    Many of the improvements in the attitudes of clinicians and researchers have been driven by women mental health consumers. When men stand back and fail to join the discussions, they don’t just risk missing the boat, they are missing the boat. Meanwhile, we are just burying the evidence that needs to be examined, to look for further ways of improving.

    Also, familycaught$ and child [and spousal] support were both notable for their absence. I guess they are happy with their existing suicide triggering performance and saw no need for further increases. Or that further increases would risk the general public noticing? However, as Machiavelli said, time is the greatest innovator. I hope so, for our sake!

    MurrayBacon – axe murderer.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Fri 28th September 2012 @ 11:56 pm

  3. New Zealand Suicide Prevention Conference 2013 10th September 2013 Programme

    Moira Clunie – Mental Health Foundation, Auckland This programme has some mention of stigma, which is probably the largest single protector of men from getting help in dealing with suicidal feelings.

    Jorgen Gullestrup – CEO, Mates in Construction, AUSTRALIA
    As so often occurs, the constructive force closest to helping younger middle aged men deal with child [and spousal] support suicide drivers and familycaught$ suicide drivers, is from our intellectually and culturally more advanced cousins in Australia.

    Dr Rebecca Appelhoff – Canterbury District Health Board, Christchurch
    Dr Jaelea Skehan – Hunter Institute of Mental Health, AUSTRALIA and
    Associate Professor Julie Cerel – University of Kentucky, KY, USA
    These three speakers have a focus on positive mental health, which is the theme which has the strongest relevance to planting safe seeds into men’s mental health and planting these seeds very young – where there is the best opportunity for helping men to value themselves safely, even through harsh times.

    Otherwise, the general focus is on the PC themes, GLBT, youth, Maori and Islands, all but the largest demographic group. The squeaky hinge gets the oil. Younger middle aged men’s silence, and the silence of their parents, wives and children allows this to continue.

    Until men face up to our suicide drivers, we will keep being run down mercilessly. Who notices roadkill and does something about it?

    If you are short of money, these presentations are videoed and put onto the Mental Health Commission website, usually about 2 weeks after the Conference.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Sun 8th September 2013 @ 5:51 pm

  4. There must be many people dying to know if they will come up with something different next year that might help.

    Comment by Downunder — Mon 9th September 2013 @ 9:44 am

  5. Dear Downunder, suicide issues get very little interest from pre-suicide younger middle aged men, alas. Substantial progress is being made in positive mental health, or wellbeing, much of that in the area of stigma reduction.

    Suicide issues bite about 1% of the population seriously. IRD child [and spousal] support issues bite about 10% of the population, but have little political traction, so suicide issues have even less pressure behind them, politically.

    Even jokes in politics get more constructive attention. This might run against my values, if I have any left, but I have to face that most of the population spend more time or money on travel, food beyond their material needs, watching films, or porno, or mind bending drugs, or escapism, than on protecting their families from suicide, or malpractice in IRD child [and spousal] support.

    This is our societal values in action. I will do something, when I can see the need. I know a few parents and children who would have benefited from a more forward looking, proactive approach. Best thought and not said.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Mon 9th September 2013 @ 10:31 am

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