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Grey Not Blue: Depression and suicide in older people - Kerikeri

There are some risk factors in suicide that are particular to older people yet rarely are included in suicide risk assessment tools nor covered in suicide prevention training.

Many general population suicide prevention and mental wellbeing campaigns do not or inadequately address the unique contributing factors to depression and suicide in older people.

Studies indicate that the aged care sector is underprepared, the workforce under skilled and there lacks leadership to champion effective prevention strategies and promoting wellbeing in older people.

It is critical that those working with older people are:

  • knowledgeable about the latest research and understanding of suicide in older people
  • confident and competent in responding to the depressed or suicidal older person
  • able to implement a suicide postvention response and provide support for those impacted by a suicide death

This workshop is specifically designed for those who work with older people in community or residential settings in the NZ context.

Suicide in those over 65 is more common than is generally thought. The provisional 2019/20 suicide statistics showed that suicide among the elderly is on the increase. Often under reported, depression and suicide is a major mental health issue for this age group. Primary health professionals, support workers, aged care workers, pastoral care workers & clergy are often best placed to identify those at risk and to provide support and interventions.

Workshop Description

This workshop is specifically designed for those who work with older people in community or residential settings in the NZ context. The identification and treatment of depression and suicide in older people is the main focus of this workshop. There are some risk factors in suicide that are particular to older people yet rarely are covered in suicide prevention training. It is critical that those working with older people are:

  • knowledgeable about the latest research and understanding of suicide in older people
  • confident and competent in responding to the depressed or suicidal older person
  • able to implement a suicide postvention response and provide support for those impacted by a suicide death.

Placing depression and suicide in older people in a social context, workshop participants will examine the factors that promote wellbeing and those that contribute to depression and suicide. Issues such a loss, redundancy and futility, loneliness and isolation, elder abuse, quality of life will be covered.

Topics covered in the workshop:

  • Grey not blue - Overview of depression and life stressors in older person and the risk for suicide
  • The silent suffering - Social determinants of suicide in older people
  • Suicidal behaviour vs Assisted Dying
  • Identifying suicide ideation and behaviour in older person
  • Support strategies for older people who are suicidal
  • Dealing with the impact of a suicide of an older person and prevention of suicide contagion

Previous participants' feedback

“A must attend for anyone working with older people. Learnt heaps” Aged Care Worker

“Thank you so much for sharing your knowlege and passion. I leave with a new determination in my work” Older Person Mental Health Nurse

“This is the first workshop I have attended that has provided such a comprehensive coverage of suicide in older people. Could see many of the factors in the people I see" Elder Abuse Worker

'This workshop is long overdue. for far too long the issues you raised have not been addressed" Older Person Advocate

"Absolutely fantastic. Best training I have been to in long time. So much to take back to my staff" Director of Nursing, Aged Care Facility

"Appreciated the way you did not pathologise the aging process and provide a model to understand suicide and depression into an appropriate context" Geriatrician

An opportunity for a day of learning with internationally respected suicidologist, Barry Taylor

Barry has proven leadership over 30 years at local, national and international levels in using community initiatives and strength-based approaches to improve individual and community wellbeing and the prevention of suicide. His work has strongly focussed on suicide prevention, assessment and management of suicidality and postvention including leadership of New Zealand's first national response to youth suicide in the late 1980s.

Barry has lectured and mentored programmes, both nationally and internationally, and been appointed to numerous government advisory committees on mental wellbeing promotion and suicide prevention. Throughout hi career he has been a strong advocate for more focused action on suicide in older people which he termed "the forgotten population." He is the only New Zealand member of the International Suicide in Older Persons Working Group. As a Health Sociologist and Public Health practitioner, Barry has a long-term interest in the factors that contribute to mental distress and suicide risk in older people, such as social isolation and retirement and sense of purpose in older men.

In 2016 he was awarded the NSW Mental Health Commissioner's Community Champion Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to mental wellbeing and suicide prevention.

After a number of years overseas, Barry is living back in New Zealand and is passionate about building the knowledge base, competence and capability within our country to effectively respond to the unacceptably high rates of suicide in this country.

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