Con­trib­u­tors sought from com­mu­nity for sui­cide preven­tion sym­po­sium

Central Leader - - News -

Sui­cide Preven­tion In­for­ma­tion New Zealand (SPINZ) is seek­ing con­trib­u­tors for its 2009 sym­po­sium, Cul­ture and Sui­cide Preven­tion in Aotearoa.

The sym­po­sium will be the SPINZ an­nual event to co­in­cide with World Sui­cide Preven­tion Day on Septem­ber 10.

Each event held to date has fo­cused on a dif­fer­ent topic, with top­ics in pre­vi­ous years in­clud­ing male sui­cide, the role of me­dia in sui­cide preven­tion, and de­lib­er­ate self-harm.

This year’s theme has been cho­sen in the con­text of in­creas­ing con­cern about sui­cide rates among Maori, which have de­clined but not matched a trend of de­creases in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion.

“Sui­cide is viewed dif­fer­ently across cul­tures,” says Mer­ryn Statham, Di­rec­tor of SPINZ. “This needs to be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion when work­ing with in­di­vid­u­als at risk, their fam­i­lies, and com­mu­ni­ties.”

The key­note speaker is Dr Tracy Wester­man, an in­ter­na­tion­ally-recog­nised au­thor­ity on Abo­rig­i­nal and in­dige­nous men­tal health. She has led a range of ini- tia­tives in Aus­tralia which have worked to ac­knowl­edge the cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences of in­dige­nous pop­u­la­tions in the treat­ment of men­tal ill­ness.

She is thought to be the only clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist of Abo­rig­i­nal de­scent in Aus­tralia.

SPINZ says Dr Wester­man’s ap­pear­ance high­lights the in­ter­na­tional theme of World Sui­cide Preven­tion Day, “Sui­cide Preven­tion In Dif­fer­ent Cul­tures”.

Her pre­sen­ta­tion will also add value to work be­ing done in New Zealand to im­prove Maori men­tal health. The lat­est statis­tics avail­able from the Min­istry of Health show that Maori sui­cide rates are at 17.2 per 100,000 pop­u­la­tion, sig­nif­i­cantly higher than for non-Maori at 11 per 100,000 pop­u­la­tion.

“Sadly, higher rates of sui­cide among in­dige­nous peo­ples is some­thing seen around the world,” Statham says. “For Maori, th­ese higher sui­cide rates sit within a range of poorer health out­comes which need to be ad­dressed col­lec­tively.

“Our sym­po­sium aims to do this by bring­ing to­gether cul­tural and clin­i­cal mod­els of care to share ap­proaches and learn from each other.”

SPINZ is seek­ing pre­sen­ters from a range of or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing com­mu­nity work­ers, lo­cal gov­ern­ment, plan­ners and fun­ders, re­searchers, ad­vo­cacy groups, men­tal health ser­vice providers, gov­ern­ment agen­cies such as ed­u­ca­tion and cor­rec­tions, non-gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions, district health boards and pub­lic health ser­vices.

“Whether you’re new to the field of sui­cide preven­tion or well es­tab­lished in the area, we want to hear from you,” Statham says. “We are es­pe­cially keen to have con­trib­u­tors who are cur­rently work­ing with Maori and other cul­tures, or who work within a Maori frame­work like Whanau Ora.

“In­sights from other cul­tures, in­clud­ing Pa­cific, Asian, refugee and mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties, are also wel­come.”

The SPINZ sym­po­sium takes place in Welling­ton on Septem­ber 10 and 11. The call for ab­stracts is open from now un­til June 25.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, visit the SPINZ web­site at www.spinz.

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