Suicide prevention in the Asia Pacific region

Guest blog by Eliza Puna, PhD student, University of Auckland

Tokyo, Japan hosted the 7th Annual Asia Pacific Regional Conference of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), which took place on 18-21 May 2016.  The theme this year was Building bridges for a new start beyond borders.

The conference itself is an established bi-annual regional and international IASP forum that highlights suicide research and countermeasures in Asia and the Pacific. Attending this meeting was a great opportunity to learn more about the field of Suicidology through shared research from influential people at the forefront of mental health and suicide prevention within the Asia Pacific region and also globally.

As part of this conference Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath organised a Pacific-focussed symposium entitled ‘Pacific peoples and suicide: Altering the conversations’. This was an important platform to share research and work that has been done for Pacific suicide prevention by esteemed researchers, academics and professionals within different Pacific populations.

This included (in the order of presentations given) Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath (The University of Auckland) who shared her work with Samoan and Tongan communities, myself (The University of Auckland) and my research with Cook Islands young people, Professor Deborah Goebert (University of Hawaii) and her work with Native Hawaiian youth and communities, Professor Kirk Johnson (University of Guam) and his work with youth in Guam and Micronesia, and Dr Monique Faleafa and Mrs Denise Kingi-'Ulu'ave from Le Va who concluded our session and shared the important development of ‘FLO: Pasifika for Life’.

Le Va’s presentation was deemed an excellent way to finish our session as intended by our organiser. It brought to life how evidence informs practice and, more importantly, how we can ensure that our Pacific communities are receiving relevant and appropriate information necessary for suicide prevention endeavours. 

The symposium was well received by those in attendance.  Personally, I thought it was a great representation and collaboration of the work being done by academics and organisations such as Le Va towards advancing the field of Pacific suicide prevention. Moreover, having the opportunity to represent the Cook Islands voice on suicide prevention through a presentation and poster at a global and IASP forum realises the importance and need for more Cook Islands voices and work to be done.

Overall, this conference helps ensure that, at the end of the day, the work that we do builds meaningful and collaborative partnerships to better bridge the worlds of academia and our communities, while strengthening our resolve to save unnecessary deaths through suicide. 


ありがとうございました – Arigatōgozaimashita.

Eliza Puna

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Suicide prevention