A Collaborative Approach to Supporting People at Risk of Suicide

Date produced 13 May 2013

Caitlin is a young woman who has attempted suicide and may be at risk of doing so again. The interdisciplinary panel of practitioners discuss how they can work together to support her. Dr David Webb, a suicide survivor, provides a unique and insightful perspective to the discussion.

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Learning outcomes

By watching this webinar you will be better able to:

  • identify the indicators and stigma associated with suicidality
  • identify the key principles of the featured panellists’ approach in assessing, treating and supporting people at risk of suicide
  • identify the merits, challenges and opportunities in providing collaborative care for people at risk of suicide.


Dr Mary Emeleus
Qualifications: MBBS BSc(Med), FRACGP Grad Dip Rural, MMH (Psychotherapy)
Profession: General Practitioner
Mary is a GP and Psychotherapist working at headspace Cairns. She has a mixed role as Senior Clinician, including seeing clients for medical, psychological medicine and psychotherapy appointments, supervising counselling staff and contributing to management. She previously worked at headspace Townsville for four years in a similar role and was GP Advisor to Mental Health Programs for Townsville-Mackay Medicare Local. 

Her professional interests include lifestyle medicine, adolescent mental health, early psychosis intervention, psychological and social approaches to psychosis, Balint groups and Psychodynamic, Jungian and Existential theory & practice. 

Memberships include Australian Society for Psychological Medicine (www.aspm.org.au) (committee member), RACGP NFSI Psychological Medicine Network, Balint Society of Australia and the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS) (www.isps.org.au). 


  • Ms Susan Beaton
    Profession: Psychologist
    Based in: Victoria
    Susan is a psychologist with over 25 years of experience working in the Suicide Prevention field, currently as beyondblue’s Suicide Prevention Advisor. Susan worked for 7 years as National Advisor on Suicide Prevention for Lifeline’s National Office and has been involved with suicide prevention both in Australia and the USA, working mostly for NGO’s in: training and education; project management; service innovation,development and implementation; policy development and advice; Board representation and various consultancy roles.

    Susan was elected to the Board of the American Association for Suicide Prevention (2008-2011) and contributed as advisor to the Australian Government’s revised Suicide Prevention Framework Living is For Everyone suite of documents. In 2011 Susan was awarded the Audrey Fagan Churchill Fellowship to study alternative models of suicide crisis support overseas. Susan’s expertise covers prevention, intervention and postvention domains and she is interested in ensuring that those providing support and care to suicidal people are skilled and compassionate.

  • Dr David Webb
    Based in: Victoria
    After surviving “four years of madness”, David Webb looked into the formal study of suicide (Suicidology) and was taken aback to find the first-person voice of survivors virtually absent. Perhaps less surprising was the absence of spirituality, the key to David’s survival. So in 2006 he completed what is thought to be the world’s first PhD on suicide by a survivor, followed in 2010 by his book “Thinking About Suicide” (and its companion website thinkingaboutsuicide.org).
    David has been a board member of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP) and worked for the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO). He now lives quietly in Castlemaine, an old gold-rush town near Melbourne.

  • Dr Timothy Wand
    Profession: Mental Health Nurse / Practitioner
    Based in: NSW
    Tim Wand is a nurse practitioner in mental health liaison in the emergency department at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Mental Health at the University of Sydney.

    Tim has published numerous research, review and discussion papers on the nurse practitioner role and on topical subjects such as mental health legislation, risk assessment, zero tolerance, mental health promotion and solution focussed therapy.

  • Dr Michael Dudley
    Profession: Psychiatrist
    Based in: NSW
    Working as a Psychiatrist at Prince of Wales and Sydney Children’s Hospitals, Dr Michael Dudley has extensive experience in working with youth, indigenous people, and refugees who at risk of suicide and self harm. Michael is a Conjoint Lecturer in Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales and conducts research into risk and protective factors in youth across metropolitan and regional areas of Australia.

    Michael is currently a member of both the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee (ASPAC) and the Advisory Board of Inspire Foundation’s ‘Reach Out!’ Program.


The following resources supported the webinar:

Case study

Caitlin — Suicide Prevention PDF [275KB]


Suicide Prevention PDF [1.7 MB]

External resources

Participants who attended the webinar provided the following feedback:

Learning needs

  • 98% of respondents indicated their learning needs were ‘entirely met’ or ‘partially met’.

Relevance to practice

  • 88% stated it was ‘entirely relevant’. 12% marked it as ‘partially relevant’.

Practice change

  • 94% of respondents intend to make changes to their clinical work practice as a result of attending the webinar. 
  • 84% of respondents said it would give them more confidence in providing care to people with complex trauma.  
  • 50% said they felt an increased willingness to discuss other professional options with their clients.
  • 37% of respondents said it would improve their referral process due to a better understanding of different disciplines.

This webinar was produced in May 2013. The Mental Health Professionals’ Network’s webinars are produced for mental health professionals. The information is intended for suitably-experienced mental health professionals and does not replace clinical judgement and decision making. It is intended for use as a guide of a general nature only and may or may not be relevant to particular patients or circumstances. The subject matter is not exhaustive of any mental health conditions presented. Health professionals implementing any recommendations contained in the webinar must exercise their own independent skill or judgement or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular circumstances when so doing. Any information presented in the webinar recording was deemed relevant at the time of the live event and after this date has not been reviewed. No guarantee can be given that the information is free from error or omission.

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