A free public question and answer session on suicide prevention will be held in Derry this weekend as part of the World Congress on Suicide Prevention.
Over 850 experts in suicide prevention from across the globe have gathered in Derry for the 30th World Congress of the International Association for Suicide Prevention, which opened on Tuesday.
The five day event involves leading experts from six different continents discussing best practice in suicide prevention and showcasing the latest research and interventions.
As part of this event, the organisers are holding a Free Public Q&A session on Suicide Prevention at the Millennium Forum on Saturday, September 21 from 2.30pm to 4.30pm.
This will provide a unique opportunity to hear several key speakers from the Congress, giving members of the public an opportunity to hear their reflections on the latest research presented, and answer questions.
The public session on Saturday afternoon is free to attend, attendees do not need to register, however there is likely to be a huge demand and places are limited and on a first-come, first-served basis.
The conference Co-Chairs are Professor Rory O’Connor, University of Glasgow, Vice President of IASP, Professor Siobhan O’Neill, Ulster University and Barry McGale, Suicide Bereavement UK.
Barry said: “It was important to us that the conference had a lasting legacy in our city and we thought it was important that the public get this unique opportunity to hear from leaders in the field of suicide prevention”.
Siobhan said: “This will be Derry’s largest ever conference and we are very keen to ensure that the community can access the expertise of speakers, and hear about the latest research on this topic.”
Rory said: “Suicide prevention is everyone’s business and it is only through working together that we’ll tackle this global challenge. For this reason, I am delighted that the wider community in Derry will have the opportunity to meet some of the world’s suicide prevention experts.”
Over the course of the five day congress there is a total of 446 presentations, 237 of which are oral presentations, and 209 are poster presentations.
The presentations cover a varied range of topics including the psychology of suicide, suicide prevention in young people, national suicide prevention strategies, working with particular population groups and how to deliver life-saving interventions to people who are at risk.
This will be the biggest conference that Derry has ever hosted and in addition to the scientific presentations, the organisers have planned a social programme, including an arts exhibition and music trail.
The arts exhibition has been produced by ArtsCare NI, in collaboration with the Public Health Agency with on overall theme of recovery and hope. Five venues will host free live music for delegates and members of the public, on the evening of September 18th and 19th.
The conference opening ceremony is being hosted in the Millennium Forum today, and this will be followed by a civic reception, where Derry’s mayor will welcome delegates, the majority of whom will have travelled from overseas to attend the conference.
Siobhan said: “NI has the highest suicide rates in the British Isles and it is vital that we learn from the scientific research on the topic so that we can apply this to our local setting. No one should die alone and in despair by suicide. The conference also represents an amazing opportunity to showcase our world leading local research on suicide prevention and inspire early career researchers to undertake work in this area.”
Rory said: “As a native of Derry, I am delighted to bring the World Congress to Derry. It is an incredible coup for the city as the conference is organised under the auspices of the International Association for Suicide Prevention, the leading international organisation dedicated to suicide prevention globally. It is an exciting week for the city.”
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Michaela Boyle, welcoming the conference to the city, said: “This conference will be hugely beneficial in not only showcasing the excellent, impactful suicide prevention research being done, but will also produce the positive benefits for those of you in this city and wider Council area who work so tirelessly to address this important problem. It is something that resonates with a lot of people in the city, district and beyond. We have felt the pain of suicide and events like this conference are essential in helping us save lives.”
*If you, or anyone you know, is affected by suicidal thoughts please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or Samaritans on 116 123.