Experts gather for online male suicide conference

Suicide kills 9 people a day, 7 men and 2 women. Closing the gap between male suicide and female suicide would save nearly 1,700 lives a year.

With this in mind, Day 1 of the Men’s Health Connected online conference, hosted by the Australian Men’s Health Forum, focuses on the theme of Male Suicide and Men’s Health.

Starting at 9.30am AEST on Monday 10 May, the day opens with a panel discussion hosted by former Lifeline CEO, Pete Shmigel that considers the national approach to male suicide and asks “Are men a priority?”  

Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA), the peak body for the suicide prevention sector, has called for the development of “a male suicide prevention strategy as a core stream within the national suicide prevention strategy, with funding and accountability attached to measures”.

SPA will be represented on the panel by Christopher Stone, Acting Director, Policy & Government Relations. He will be joined by AMHF CEO Glen Poole - author of the report Giving Men A Hand: The case for a National Plan to prevent male suicide – and Dr Zac Seidler, Director of Mental Health Training at Movember, the global men’s health charity which is committed to reducing the rate of male suicide by 25%.

Also joining the panel is Dr Bernadette Boss CSCm the interim National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention who is leading the Independent Review of Past Defence and Veteran Suicides, the majority of which are male suicides. 

DOWNLOAD: GIVING MEN A HELPING HAND

The second session of the day focuses on research into male suicide prevention and is led by Professor Jane Pirkis, who believes that preventing suicide among men and boys would go further than any other single approach to achieving the Government’s  goal of working towards zero suicides.

READ: Life in Mind speaks to Professor Jane Pirkis on research in prevention of suicide in males

Professsor Pirkis will present an update on the $5.6 million Buoy Project, a study of male suicide prevention funded the Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission.

 She will be joined by Professor Tony LaMontagne, Dr Kylie King, Dr Stewart Vella and Dr Zac Seidler.

The afternoon will kick off with a focus on men’s lived experience of suicide.

One of the key findings of the Prime Minsters’ National Suicide Prevention Adviser, Christine Morgan, was that lived experience knowledge and expertise should be prioritised and integrated into the planning and delivery of a whole of government suicide prevention action.

Bronwen Edwards, CEO of Australia’s leading lived experience charity, Roses in the Ocean, will outline the many roles that men with lived experience can play in preventing suicide.

She will be joined by Dr Neil Hall of Western Sydney University, who will present findings of recent research exploring the experiences of men with lived experience of suicide.

Bringing his personal experience of suicide to the conversation, Graeme Holdsworth will share his own battle with suicide and reflect on his journey as a lived experience advocate in the suicide prevention sector, including his stint on the Expert Advisory Group to the PM's National Suicide Prevention Adviser, Christine Morgan. 

This session also includes Tynan Narywonczy, a lived experience speaker, who will shares his story of recovering from a crippling workplace accident that led to suicidal thoughts. 

The day finishes with a focus on community-based peer support initiatives that are run by men for men. Speakers on the “blokes helping blokes” panel include Jon Morgan from the Marcus Mission, Ross Ariola from Parents Beyond Breakup, Steve Jackson from MATES in Construction and Peter Seligman from The Banksia Project.

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