Impressions from the 10th TRIPLE i conference in Piran, Slovenia

By Anja Cus
Thursday, 27th June 2019
Filed under: ESRBlog

In May, I attended the 10th TRIPLE i conference in Piran, Slovenia. TRIPLE i is an international annual conference organised by the Slovene Centre for Suicide Research that aims to promote intuition, imagination and innovation in the research and prevention of suicide and suicidal behaviour.

While you will find more information on the conference and the excellent speakers here http://zivziv.si/triple-i, I decided to share my impressions from the event in this blog post.

Feeling inspired. I first encountered suicidology research during my master studies when I interviewed nurses who experienced patient suicide. To learn more about my research topic, I attended a TRIPLE i conference in Piran in 2014 that was (and still is) co-organized by my then thesis supervisor, dr. Vita Poštuvan. I remember feeling amazed to attend talks from top international researchers whose academic papers I used in designing and writing up my master thesis. Unsurprisingly, this conference left quite an impression on me and it confirmed my feeling that suicidology is a comprehensive scientific discipline that inexhaustibly poses new questions. 

Returning in a new role. This year, five years later, I was delighted to have a chance to present some of my work on non-suicidal self-injury at TRIPLE i. On first glance, my research may not seem related to suicidology. But it turns out that it is impossible to study non-suicidal self-injury without considering possible suicidality. In fact, research shows that people who engage in self-injury show higher risk to die by suicide later on. It follows, that by treating non-suicidal self-injury we address a major suicide risk factor. Therefore, I was happy to talk about non-suicidal self-injury in young people and I believe that contributing this time as a speaker made it easier for me to connect with participants and other speakers. 

Meeting researchers and professionals. Since I started my PhD at the Medical University of Vienna, I had many great opportunities to talk to well-established researchers in my field. Nevertheless, the networking opportunities at TRIPLE i felt no less exciting. I was most happy to have had a chat over coffee with Professor Keith Hawton whose work on establishing which interventions work best for young people who engage in self-harm has greatly influenced my current work. For the sake of brevity, I will not list other positive networking impressions. But the ability to exchange ideas with other professionals or students was definitely an advantage of the conference. 

The atmosphere: festive, homely and picturesque .This year, TRIPLE i celebrated its 10th anniversary and the atmosphere was accordingly festive. Establishing a suicidology conference in Slovenia on such a high level is definitely a reason to celebrate. The aforementioned homely feeling was reflected in returning to the same conference, catching up with Slovene efforts in suicide prevention and the rather small setting of the conference that promotes exchanges between attendees. Additionally, the charm of Piran city definitely contributed to overall positive impressions. For example, I resided in the old city centre and walked each morning to the venue along the coastline. After the conference, I went for a walk through the city and enjoyed the Piran landscape from the old city wall together with a psychologist whom I met at the conference. 

Slovenia and the burden of suicide. Among the listed positive impressions from the conference and impressive developments in suicidology research, it is impossible to forget that suicide is a personal tragedy for those who died by it and also for those who lost someone through it. Slovenia, a small country where I grew up, was until recently a country with one of the highest suicide rates in the world (calculated as deaths by suicide per 100.000 inhabitants). Since 2007, we can observe a decline in suicide rates that is maintained over the last years. This encouraging decline may be related to increased preventative activities, improved access to professional help and talking more openly about mental health struggles. Overall, it is promising to see that Slovenia implements many evidence-based suicide prevention activities (such as media guidelines on responsible reporting). The Slovene Centre for Suicide Research play a major role in these activities through their comprehensive work on suicide prevention and last but not least through organizing events such as TRIPLE i. 

Leaving inspired. Once more I left the conference feeling inspired and reflective. My overall impression after leaving the conference was that suicide is a very complex phenomenon and to understand and prevent it better we need insights, novel research methods and ideas from diverse disciplines. I believe that is precisely what the conference organizers strive for since ten years with their ideas behind three I’s: intuition, imagination and innovation.

(Photographs by Tina Podlogar)

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