I was really blessed this week to be able to attend the Suicide Prevention Australia Conference in Hobart. This event was enriched by a focus on Lived Experience and attendees were certainly privileged to learn from brave presenter with first hand experience of suicidal ideation or the loss of a loved one to suicide, who bravely shared their experiences. What struck me the most was the resolve of the presenters – determined to assist others to learn from their personal grief and contribute what they can to the suicide prevention movement.
There was much wisdom to be gained also from the incredible minds of those academics and researchers who travelled from around the world, some from as far as Scotland (Professor Rory O’Connor) and Norway (Professor Heidi Hjelmeland). It’s almost impossible to travel any further than these distances unless you’re heading to Antarctica!
With each keynote came new insights and new developments in this field that will undoubtedly enmesh over time as we learn more and more about the risk factors pertaining to suicide and the volitional factors that cause a person to act on suicidal thoughts. It’s incredible how much research is being done in so many different areas.
I was enlivened to see a specific focus on youth at this conference, with a whole symposium dedicated to exploring the risk factors and preventative factors pertaining to youth, right through to preventative programs for implementation in schools. I delivered my presentation, which focused on the importance of engaging teachers in the dialogue about youth suicide prevention. I focussed on how organisations can better cater their training for teachers, within the specific confines and limitations of the school system, so that teachers can confidently work as gatekeepers – recognizing young people in need of support, connecting with them and making appropriate referrals to professional supports. After all, it’s what teachers do best anyway.
I was interviewed at the conference by ABC news for a PM radio segment focused precisely on the topic of my presentation – teachers as an underutilised resource. You can listen to the segment here: http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2015/s4281673.htm
With renewed focus and energy after such an enriching event, I’m continuing to deliver my Suicide Prevention Training workshops to schools and am proud to announce the official launch of my company Awaken Youth Pty Ltd, dedicated to these endeavours. I’m in the process of obtaining my BOSTES Accreditation, which will ensure that teachers who attend the professional development can count the time towards their personal accreditation. This certainly be a win-win and see plenty of schools booking in to have their staff participate in the workshop – an outcome that I’m very excited to achieve.
Awakening Sebastian is also keeping me very busy, with lots of sales and positive feedback from readers, which is very heartening. I truly believe that this novel will make a difference. I’ve got lots of interest now from libraries and an author talk and book-signing coming up later this year (very exciting and the first of many). Stay tuned for the official book launch, which will be planned shortly.
Thanks everyone for your ongoing encouragement and support, particularly my family, who travelled with me down to Hobart to support me with the Conference Presentation.
Until the next update,