Global Indigenous Suicide Prevention, Mental Health & Wellbeing Research Symposium

From the 26th – 27th of February, Te Rau Matatini attended the Global Indigenous Suicide Prevention Mental Health & Wellbeing Research Symposium in Pōneke (Wellington), which was a part of the University of Otago’s Public Health summer school.  This symposium brought together Māori and international researchers to Aotearoa’s national museum Te Papa.  Over two days attendees from New Zealand and overseas heard from a broad range of researchers working specifically in indigenous suicide prevention or in strongly related disciplines.  Sessions included:

  • Colonisation and suicide
  • Māori suicide prevention and wellbeing research showcase
  • Pacific research showcase
  • Evidence-based indigenous measures of wellbeing (Canada)
  • American Indian health and wellbeing
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders research showcase
  • Takatāpui LGBTI+ panel research priorities 

The symposium also included youth development workshops, which sort to engage rangatahi through speakers, focus groups, artistic performances, and creative activities. 

Dr Kahu McClintock (Research Manager, Te Rau Matatini) presented in the Māori suicide prevention and wellbeing research showcase on the first day, and the evidence and gaps in Māori suicide prevention research and indigenous well-being measures session which took place on day two. Across the whole of the symposium, the calibre of the speakers was excellent, including Tā Mason Durie who delivered the key opening address. 

Key messages of the symposium included the emphasis that there are many factors that contribute to indigenous suicide, therefore there is a need for multiple approaches to addressing it.  That it is important to understand the wider historical, political, and social environments impacting indigenous wellbeing. And that relationships/connections to others are important sources of support and sources of identity for indigenous people.