Outcome:  A workforce confident and competent in assessing suicide risk and providing ongoing support to the suicidal person

This training series consists of two workshops.  Rather than a siloed approach to assessment and support strategies, this training programmes highlights the interconnection of the two and presents the two as part of the continuum of support of the suicidal person.  While participants can chose to attend just one of the workshops, experience from previous workshops that after attending the first workshop Risky Business: The art of assessing suicide risk and and imminent danger, most participants went on to enrol in the second workshop, Custodians of Hope: Supporting the suicidal person. Participants' evaluation strongly supported the attendance of both workshops stating it provided a well rounded training package.


Due to the cross referencing of content covered in the Risky Business workshop, attendance at this workshop is strongly encouraged for those wishing to enrol in the Custodians of Hope workshop to maximise the learning in that training. 


Register for both workshops and receive a 20% discount on both registrations


Risky Business: Assessing Suicide Risk and Imminent Danger


Undertaking a suicide risk assessment is not without its complexities. One size does not fit all. This advanced level workshop provides the opportunity for participants to depth their knowledge and competency in the “art” of assessing suicide risk and imminent danger through empathetic dialogue rather than a more traditional assessment interview process.  


The Conversation of Enquiry is a series of mini conversations that is client-focused and where the conversation of distress is the primary focus of the enquiry rather than presence of risk factors.  This conversation model has been shown to be an effective process in enhancing engagement and eliciting the information required to make an informed assessment of suicide acuity.  The conversation ends with a summative assessment task that focuses on nuance and sublety, degreee of reflective insight, wairua, despair to hope continuum, alientation to engagement continuum, reactive to responsive.


This advanced level workshop builds on foundational or gatekeeper suicide prevention training and provides the opportunity for participants to depth their critical analysis of suicide risk factors and reflect on their practice in assessing risk. The content of the workshop investigates in detail the rationale and research that informs risk assessment items. This assists participants to more confidently and competently adapt the content and process of the assessment to best meet the context and the needs of the client, particularly in crisis situations.  It also facilitates greater depth of enquiry and does not constrain the practitioner to questions on the assessment sheet. It examines the elements essential for a good assessment: rapport; dialogue; confidence and competence.


Topics covered:

  • Overview of the phenomenon of suicide and the 'suicidal moment'

  • What is meant by suicide risk? - Predisposing, Precipitating and Perpetuating Risk Factors

  • The art of suicide risk assessment: From assessment to conversation of enquiry

  • A holistic approach to assessment - taking into account physical, emotional, cultural, socio-economic, and spiritual factors or influencers,

  • Asking the question to get the answer: Integrating assessment questions into a counselling/support context

  • Discussing suicide with a client and making sense of the suicidal narrative

  • Coping vs Safety Planning


Evaluation of this training has been highly praised with participants consistently stating that the content of this course is both relevant and applicable to the work of mental health and primary health clinicians; mental health support workers; counsellors and psychotherapists in private practice; school counsellors; frontline health, social service and community workers. Those without previous suicide prevention training would also benefit from attending this workshop.​

Recent coroners’ findings highlighted the need for workers in the health, social services and counselling or psychotherapy sectors to regularly update their knowledge and competency in suicide risk assessment and intervention. This training should be a core part of practitioner's ongoing professional development.

Advanced practitioners such as counsellors, psychotherapists and clinicians should not only be knowledgeable about suicide risk assessment but also highly competent in undertaking an assessment and assessing the level of risk. The training attended should match the worker's scope of practice. Those working in the non-mental health sectors should also be competent in making an informed referral to crisis or secondary mental health services.


Feedback from other participants

“I have learnt more about risk assessment in this workshop than I have learnt from all the suicide prevention workshops I have attended combined”   


“Gave me new insights into something I do everyday”

Mental Health Clinician

"I feel much better equipped to provide support and supervision to my team members"

Mental Health NGO Team Leader

“Appreciated how you constantly drew upon the participants’ experience.  Will leave thinking / reflecting on my current practice”

School Counsellor

“A must attend for counsellors. A rich experience filled”


"I feel more reassured that our staff have both the knowledge and the competence to undertake a high quality assessment that is person-centred and appropriate for the numerous cultural communities that we work with."



Custodians of Hope: Supporting the suicidal person


Identifying suicide risk is only one aspect of working with the suicidal person. The increasing demand on mental health services means that front line workers are often having to provide ongoing support for those assessed as not being in imminent danger of suicide.

Workshop participants will explore a range of engagement, support and safe containment outcomes for supporting the suicidal person post the risk assessment process. These outcomes can be applied to any counselling, psychotherapeutic or support model. 


The outcomes are grouped into:

Manaakitanga, Anchoring, Kōrero, Illumination, Interrupting the suicidal thought, Invitation to Live, Custodians of Hope, Restoring the Wairua, Strategies for coping


This workshop is of value for those working in counselling, psychotherapy or social support settings who have a good understanding of counselling and/or mental health support/ recovery principles and processes. While the workshop is focused primarily around non-mental health settings, the workshop content is also relevant to workers in mental health settings.

Topics covered

  • The phenomenon of suicide

  • The suicidal moment

  • Key principles in engaging and supporting the suicidal person

  • Custodian of hope model

  • Coping planning vs safety planning

  • Safe practice: Keeping the suicidal person safe physically, emotionally and culturally

  • Including whānau and significant others as part of the support team

  • Legal obligations and implications - Duty of Care, Confidentiality, Privacy Act

The primary aim of supporting the suicidal person is to engender a sense of hope and inviting the person to live

A recent Coroner's finding has highlighted the need for counsellors in private practice, NGO mental health support organisations and front-line health and social services to be up to date in their competency and capability to engage with the suicidal client and to have good referral processes in place.

Feedback from other participants

"The easy to understand concepts and the model of support reduced my anxiety about working with a suicidal person. I leave far more confident and trusting of my skills to be an effective support”

AOD Counsellor

“Insightful, informative and passionate presentation along with your humour engaged me for the whole day.” 


“The many examples you shared from your work enhanced my learning and made the application of the model relevant to my work”

ACC Counsellor

“Your cultural sensitivity and drawing on Māori understandings of wellbeing made the workshop relevant to my practice.”    



Topics covered in the workshop:

  • Grey not blue - Overview of depression and life stressors in older person and the risk for suicide

  • Promoting mental wellbeing in older people

  • The silent suffering - Social determinants of suicide in older people

  • Suicidal behaviour vs Assisted Dying

  • Identifying suicide ideation and behaviour in older person

  • Support strategies for older people who are suicidal

  • Dealing with the impact of a suicide of an older person and prevention of suicide contagion


Grey Not Blue: Introduction to depression and suicide in the older person in COVID-19 impacted and post lockdown New Zealand


Suicide in those over 65 is more common than is generally thought. Often under reported, depression and suicide is a major mental health issue for this age group. Primary health professionals, support workers, aged care workers, pastoral care workers & clergy are often best placed to identify those at risk and to provide support and interventions. The identification and treatment of depression is an essential aspect of this work.

As the baby boomer generation age, many will enjoy reasonable physical health, however mental health issues, in particular depression, will be a prevalent health issue. This is not just an issue for those in primary care or aged care facilities but is one that needs serious consideration by management and workers in retirement villages.

In a study of the locations of suicide in New Zealand, it was found that apart from private home, aged care facilities and retirement villages were the most common places where older people killed themselves. This has implications for family, staff and other residents.

Placing depression and suicide in older people in a social context, workshop participants will examine the factors that promote wellbeing and those that contribute to depression and suicide. Issues such a loss, redundancy and futility, loneliness and isolation, elder abuse, quality of life will be covered.

With the upcoming referendum on assisted dying, there will be an increased public debate about whether people have the right to end their life at a time of their choosing and, if so, under what circumstances. It presents a combination of philosophical, moral, legal and ethical dilemmas which cannot be answered solely by one of these domains. The workshop will cover the complex interrelationship of factors between suicidality in older people and assisted dying as a way of clarifying the differences between the narrative of the suicidal older person vis a vis the person wishing to determine their imminent death due to terminal illness. This clarification is critical as each narrative requires quite distinct and different response by professionals.

This workshop is designed for those who work with older people in community or residential settings

Feedback from other participants

“A must attend for anyone working with older people. Learnt heaps”

Aged Care Worker

'"This workshop is long overdue. The issues you raised have for far too long not being addressed."

Older Person Advocate

"Appreciated the way you did not pathologise the aging process and provide a model to understand  suicide and depression into an appropriate context"


“Thank you so much for sharing your knowlege and passion. I leave with a new determination in my work”

Older Person Mental Health Nurse

"Loved every minute. Great material by a great presenter. So much to take back to my staff"

Director of Nursing, Aged Care Nursing Home

“This is the first workshop I have attended that has provided such a comprehensive coverage of suicide in older people.  Could see many of the factors in the people I see"

Elder Abuse Worker


Thriving Not Dying: Lessons learnt in the prevention of youth suicide

Despite numerous initiatives, we have seen in recent years an upward trend in the rates of suicide in young people, particularly for Maori, young men. An alarming potential trend is the rise in number of young people under 15, especially females, killing themselves.

This must cause us to pause and critically review what has been done and to learn from the research and the lessons from previous programmes and strategies. One learning is that many youth suicide prevention programmes have been implemented in communities and countries with little evidence of efficacy or rigorous evaluation and have done little to influience the thinking or behaviour of suicidal young people. Some programmes have even been known to contrubute to a "normalisaion" of suicide in youth culture.

While there is no argument about the need to address the unacceptably high rates of youth suicide, the challenge is to identify the most effective strategies to implement. This workshop will provide an overview of what has been shown to be effective prevention and intervention strategies.

Suicide in young people is prevented by nurturing well and hope-filled rangatahi living and participating in caring and safe whānau and communities, supported by manaakitanga and whānau ora and wellbeing and evidence based interventions.


Based on thirty years of working with suicidal young people, Barry will offer a critique of current suicide prevention initiatives, providing insights into:

  • The phenomenon of suicide in young people – What is it and how is it explained

  • Gender and cultural trends in youth suicide

  • Inter-generational suicide 

  • The rise of trauma related suicide

  • The inculturation of suicidal thinking and behaviour in youth culture

  • To talk or not to talk about suicide debate- an overview of the different perspectives and the pro and cons of each perspective

  • The changing dynamics of suicidality in young people - making sense of their suicide narrative

Hear a comprehensive and considered analysis of the evolvement of suicide in young people by a leading suicide prevention specialist who has mapped over thirty years the suicide in NZ young people since it first became an issue of concern in the late 1980s.

Have a greater understanding of 

  • the reasons why many of the youth suicide prevention initiatives have been ineffective, 

  • what needs to change in both attitudes and approaches

  • what the evidence tells us actually makes a difference.

In 2020 this workshop is available on request

Feedback from other participants

"A must attend for anyone working with young people. Learnt heaps"

Youth Worker

“Loved the positive focus, very inspiring and informed speaker. Best training I’ve had on suicide”

Youth AOD Counsellor

"Excellent I really enjoyed it and took a lot away from the day. Definitely will be do more of your workshops"

School Counsellor

“I found the workshop inspiring and thought provoking. Much to reflect upon about my own practice”

Youth Mental Health Nurse

“So glad I had the opportunity to attend such a high quality and informed workshop”

School Counsellor

"Absolutely fantastic. Best training I've been to in a long time"

Youth Service Manager

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Me mahi tahi tautou mo te oranga o te katoa   -  Working together for the wellbeing of everyone

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