Skip to Navigation

Article: Reflecting on the NSPA 2024 Conference

On the 31st January we held our 10th annual suicide prevention conference at the Kia Oval cricket ground in London. Thanks to those members who were able to join us on the day for what was our biggest event yet, with 320 people from across the UK and across sectors coming together to network and share learning in suicide prevention.

Highlights from the day

Speakers and workshop facilitators covered a wide range of topics and perspectives. Highlights included Emma Williams and Johny, from York Ending Stigma speaking about their lived experience-led campaign work and a lived experience panel discussion chaired by Pete Johnson, NSPA Lived Experience Influencer. The panel included Influencers Fiona Malpas and David Breakspear, along with Jess Worner, Lived Experience Network Manager and Steve Gilbert, Lived Experience Consultant involved in establishing the NSPA’s Lived Experience Network. The panel spoke about the importance of meaningful collaboration with people with lived experience and learnings from different settings, including criminal justice, education and mental health.

Dr Chloe Beale gave a hard-hitting presentation on exclusion culture in mental health services, speaking of systemic issues harming people seeking support, such as being deemed too high or too low risk for support, misdiagnosis and the impact this can have on care, and exclusion from services on the basis of substance or alcohol misuse. Dr Beale also spoke of the impact on professionals and moral injury sustained. The talk ended with some reflections on how things can improve, with honest conversations, genuine co-production and partnership working with the third sector.

Great workshops

We had a fantastic range of workshop and breakout sessions this year, including a talk on using a social model of suicide prevention to build community and better support Black men, learnings from the SHOUT text service about supporting LGBTQ+ communities and autistic people, discussing the ethics, acceptability and effectiveness of using surveillance technologies for suicide prevention in public places. Plus many more – full details of workshops can be found here.

Barriers to men seeking help

The day ended with a powerful and moving presentation from Nav Mizra and Gemma Lawson of Dads Unlimited speaking about what they have found working with men at the intersection of relationship breakdown, loss of contact with children and/or domestic abuse. We know that men are at greater risk of suicide and discussion is often framed around encouraging men to talk about their feelings. Dads Unlimited shone a light on the importance of diving deeper into understanding the barriers that prevent men seeking help and better recognizing the nuance of this. For example, in their experience, men experiencing relationship breakdown and family separation do want help but are prevented from doing so for fear of this being used against them in the family courts.

A day of connection

All in all it was a day of connection, insights and discussion. We have had some great feedback on the event. As one delegate shared with us, “I came away with loads of new information and insights but also energy and determination.” We asked delegates what word they would use to describe the event. Thought-provoking, informative and inspiring were the most frequently used words by respondents. Whilst positive feedback is good to hear and helps us understand what we’re getting right, there were lots of suggestions for how we can improve too – both in terms of helping delegates get the most out of the day and the topics people would like to see covered. We will be collating feedback and learnings from the day and using these to inform planning for next year’s event.

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who attended and presented, and particular thanks to our Co-Chairs Ellen O’Donoghue of James’ Place and Jacqui Morrissey of Samaritans for chairing the day. We’d also like to thank our event sponsor, Living Works for their generous support of the event. We were delighted to see everyone, and we hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did. If you were not able to join us at conference this year, speaker and workshop presentations are available here.

About the author

Rosemary is passionate about suicide prevention work and bringing people together to both raise the profile of the issues and collaborate to find solutions. She returned to the NSPA in May 2023, having helped establish the Alliance between 2013 and 2017. Rosemary has a wealth of experience managing projects and programmes in the mental health and suicide prevention spaces, and across a range of sectors. Since leaving the NSPA previously, her work has mainly focused on children and young peoples. This has included addressing youth unemployment working in partnership with The Prince’s Trust, and addressing childhood trauma and working with children whilst at the Anna Freud Centre. Most recently she was managing a student mental health change programme led by UCL’s academic psychology department.

An image of Rosemary Ellis, NSPA Executive Lead