An international congress for suicide prevention and intervention at the Gold Coast could not come at a more crucial time, according to Pro Vice Chancellor (Health) Professor Sheena Reilly.
Griffith University is partnering with the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) for its 31st World Congress in 2021 and Professor Reilly said given a startling increase in Australian First peoples suicides, having the world’s leading experts in the field at their fingertips would be beneficial.
“This year there has been a marked increase in First Peoples suicides, including suicides amongst children,” Professor Reilly said.
“It has never been more critical to come together to try and prevent suicide and find better solutions for our communities, particularly our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“The conference will bring national and international experts to the Gold Coast to learn from each other and provide an opportunity to access the very best research.”
Griffith University has a long history of research in the field through the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP), which was established in 1996.
AISRAP principal research fellow Dr Kairi Kõlves agreed with Professor Reilly and said Australian suicide statistics were devastatingly bucking the trend of a global decline.
“While global suicide rates show decline by WHO estimates, suicide rates in Australia show upward trends since 2006, with middle-aged males showing highest rates,” Dr Kõlves said.
“Suicide rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are continuously twice as high as rates of non-Indigenous Australians, with the risk being highest for children and young people.”
Dr Kõlves said while there were some measures in place to help combat the problem – like the National Suicide Prevention Trial – further evaluations and collaborations between different sectors were required to support those who have been impacted by suicide, be it family members, colleagues or clinicians.
“Having the IASP 2021 World Congress in Australia will give invaluable opportunities to learn from world leading researchers and clinicians, share our findings and bring further collaboration and enthusiasm into suicide research and prevention in Australia,” she said.