Thriving Not Dying: Lessons learnt in the prevention of youth suicide

14 March - 9:00am - 14 March 2019 - 4:30pm

The suicide of a young person has a devastating impact on all those connected. Despite numerous initiatives, we have seen in recent years an upward trend in the rates of suicide in young people, particularly for Maori and young men.

There is much media coverage and community concern about youth suicide with demands that more needs to be done to prevent such deaths.  In the past thirty years we have seen a large of body of research that has lead to a much greater of understanding of suicide and self harm in young people. There has been numerous national prevention strategies developed as well as a large range of community led prorgrammes delivered.  Yet the suicide rate in some youth populations has not significantly dropped and in fact has persistently risen, e.g. Māori rangatahi.  This must cause us to pause and critically look at what has been done and to learn from the research and the lessons obtained from previous programmes and strategies. One learning is that numerous programmes were developed without sound evidence of efficacy or had a rigorous evaluation before been replicated or continued after pilot stage. While there is no argument about the need to address the unacceptably high rates of youth suicide, the challenge is to identify the most effective strategies to implement.

Effective youth suicide prevention strategies:

  • results in thriving rangatahi with a strong sense hope and purpose that live and participate in caring and safe whānau and communities,
  • targeted at sub populations of young people most at risk of suicide
  • timely and appropriate support and therapeutic interventions for young people who are in imminent danger of suicide
  • based on the principles of manaakitanga, whānau ora and wellbeing 
  • informed by cultural wisdom and proven evidence-based knowledge

Due to the complexity of the inter-relating factors that influence suicidal behaviour in young people the prevention of such deaths is challenging. It is critical that our prevention strategies are evidence-based and address the underlying factors.

This workshop will provide an overview of these factors and what has been shown to be effective prevention and intervention strategies.

Based on thirty years of working with suicidal young people, Barry will offer a critique of current suicide prevention initiatives, providing insights into:

  • The phenomenon of suicide in young people – What is it and how is it explained
  • Gender and cultural trends in youth suicide
  • The inculturation of suicidal thinking and behaviour in youth culture
  • To talk or not to talk about suicide debate- an overview of the different perspectives and the pro and cons of each perspective
  • Current and future trends of suicide in young people - the increase of suicide in young women, Pacific Island and why young Maori suicide remains consistently and disproportionately high
  • The changing dynamics of suicidality in young people - making sense of their suicide narrative
  • The correlation between mood disorders and suicide
  • The rise of trauma related suicide
  • Suicide contagion & inter-generational suicide

Previous participants' feedback

“I found the workshop inspiring and thought provoking. Much to reflect upon about my own practice”
Youth Mental Health Nurse

“Loved the positive focus, very intelligent and informed speaker. Best training I’ve had on suicide”
Youth AOD  Nurse

“So glad I had the opportunity to attend such a high quality and informed workshop”
School Counsellor

“A must attend for anyone working with young people.”
Youth Worker

An opportunity for a day of learning with internationally respected suicidologist, Barry Taylor

Barry has proven leadership over 30 years at local, national and international levels in using community initiatives and strength-based approaches to improve individual and community wellbeing and the prevention of suicide. His work has strongly focussed on suicide prevention, assessment and management of suicidality and postvention including leadership of New Zealand's first national response to youth suicide in the late 1980s.

Barry has lectured and mentored programmes, both nationally and internationally, and been appointed to numerous government advisory committees on mental wellbeing promotion and suicide prevention. In 2016 he was awarded the NSW Mental Health Commissioner's Community Champion Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to mental wellbeing and suicide prevention

In 1990 he receivied a Winston Churchill fellowship in 1990 which enabled him to work at Columbia Univesity in New York and to develop the first youth suiciide risk assessment tool for New Zealand.  As a Health Sociologist and Public Health practitioner, Barry has a long-term interest in the social determinants of suicide risk in young people, especially the role of inequality, gender, sexual and gender diversity and culture.

After a number of years overseas, Barry is living back in New Zealand and is passionate about building the knowledge base, competence and capability within our country to effectively respond to the unacceptably high rates of suicide in this country