Building the jigsaw – collaborating for suicide prevention
Encouraging individuals, communities, NGOs and government agencies to work collaboratively to enhance suicide prevention
efforts is the focus of the fifth National Suicide Prevention Symposium to be held at the Wellington School of Medicine
on 22 and 23 November.
Organised by Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand (SPINZ), a service of the Mental Health Foundation, this year’s
symposium has invaluable support from the President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention, Professor
Professor Mishara will pay a special visit from the University of Quebec to attend and give a keynote speech
highlighting positive and innovative examples of prevention programmes that emphasise the importance of using a
Merryn Statham, Director of SPINZ says, “there is no single approach to suicide prevention. Instead, rather like a
jigsaw, it requires many different approaches, from many different individuals, communities, organisations and
government agencies. The challenge is to make all these pieces fit together, for the benefit of those at risk.
“This collaborative approach allows us to share and connect knowledge and practical ways of working together. The aim is
to create and enhance effective approaches and programmes to prevent and reduce suicide and suicidal behaviour
throughout New Zealand.”
Experts from the New Zealand suicide prevention sector who will contribute to the symposium include Professor David
Fergusson, principal investigator and executive director of the Christchurch Health and Development Study, who will
discuss the need to create a unified framework for suicide prevention in New Zealand, while Phyllis Tangitu, General
Manager of Maori Health at Lakes DHB will speak about the development of an action plan that acknowledges and meets the
needs of Maori communities.
Associate Professor Annette Beautrais, principal investigator with the Canterbury Suicide Project, will discuss the
translation of suicide research into effective policies and strategies, and Professor Barry Taylor, Chair of the NZ
Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee, will take a look at school-aged suicide clusters and the issues that can be
undertaken to improve services, prevent future deaths and inform community response.
In addition, a media panel with Tim Pankhurst, Editor of The Dominion Post, and Jim Tully, Head of Political Science and
Communication at the University of Canterbury will look at the significance and the complexity of reporting suicide in