UNE researcher wins national suicide prevention award

A young researcher at UNE has won a national award for her work on suicide prevention among some of the most marginalised members of society.

Dr Kathy McKay was presented with a Suicide Prevention Australia LIFE Award at the Annual National Suicide Prevention Conference in Sydney last month.

Dr McKay (pictured here), who is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at UNE, won the LIFE Award for Emerging Research. Focusing on community-based programs for suicide prevention, she has been working for the past two years on the development and evaluation of a youth suicide prevention program in Western Australia called “Alive and Kicking Goals”. The program, initiated, managed and led by Indigenous people in the Kimberley, aims to reduce the high suicide rate among young Indigenous people in and around Broome through the use of football and peer education.

Dr McKay moved to UNE earlier this year to join the team of researchers in the newly-established Collaborative Research Network (CRN) for Mental Health and Well-being in Rural and Regional Communities. While continuing her work with “Alive and Kicking Goals”, she is also conducting research – together with her CRN project leader, Associate Professor Myfanwy Maple – on suicide prevention, intervention and postvention among marginalised communities, and the broader mental health and well-being of rural populations through CRN projects such as the recently-launched Rural Outreach Mental Health and Resilience (ROMHAR) study.

She remarked on “the amazingly positive atmosphere” in the CRN, where she is able to pursue her own ideas for research in a collaborative environment.

“A lot of the work I do is with Indigenous people and people from other marginalised groups who don’t have a voice,” she said. “I hope my LIFE Award raises some awareness of the suicide problem within such groups.”

She said she felt honoured that people had taken the time to nominate her for the LIFE Award. “It’s wonderful to be recognised by people I admire – and am blessed to be working with,” she said.