Professor Jo Robinson, Australia

Head, Suicide Prevention Research, Orygen

Leadership Excellence International Award 2021 

 


We know that the way we report on and communicate about suicide publicly can have an impact on people’s attitudes and behaviours, with unsafe communication associated with increases in suicidal behaviour.  We also know that the way in which we communicate and the way in which communication about suicide is disseminated has changed.  People of all ages,  particularly young people, view social media as a legitimate and important way to connect and discuss challenging topics. People also want to be empowered to talk about suicide, make connections, instill hope and ensure people get timely support.  

Jo and her team at Orygen– our recipients of the Australia award this year – developed globally innovative #chatsafe guidelines in partnership with young people. The #chatsafe guidelines provide support to those who might be responding to suicide-related content posted by others or for those who might want to share their own feelings and experiences with suicidal thoughts, feelings or behaviours. The guidelines also provide practical assistance to parents, educators, and those who provide support to young people engaging in online activities and complement and extend other work to support safe and inclusive communication about suicide. 

 #Chatsafe is meeting a current need for young people across Australia, but is also having a global impact with implementation in countries outside of Australia with a release to 10 countries so far following its success on our shores.   The unique abilities and qualities of Jo and her team are that they: 

  • Genuinely collaborate and co-design with young people in everything they do. 
  • Are world-leading, partnering with social media organizations, mental health sector experts and policy decision-makers to ensure the guidelines are grounded in the most up to date evidence and research. 
  • Are practical; developing tools able to be utilized by young people, parents, those with thoughts of suicide, those who are bereaved and people with an interest in ensuring safe spaces online for young people everywhere. 

The qualities and values that these recipients bring to the eMental Health field are vital for the future because genuine leadership from end users and those with lived experience, and rapid knowledge translation will be needed to realize the benefits of mental health innovation.   

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