Contributors sought from community for suicide prevention symposium
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. org.nz.