Authors: Carla Meurk, Laura Ferris, Lisa Wittenhagen, Fiona Davidson, Megan L Steele, Elissa Waterson, Emma Bosley, Bronwen Edwards, Ed Heffernan
Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference
Subject: book of proceedings
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: Paper from the 2019 TheMHS Conference by Carla Meurk, Laura Ferris, Lisa Wittenhagen, Fiona Davidson, Megan L Steele, Elissa Waterson, Emma Bosley, Bronwen Edwards, and Ed Heffernan. Published as part of the 2019 Book of Proceedings.
Ed Heffernan is Director of the Queensland Forensic Mental Health Service, Stream Lead of the Forensic
Mental Health Group at Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, and Associate Professor at The
University of Queensland. He is the lead investigator of Partners in Prevention.
Carla Meurk is Principal Researcher within the Forensic Mental Health Group at Queensland Centre for Mental
Health Research and an Honorary Senior Fellow at The University of Queensland. She is the project manager
for Partners in Prevention.
Police and ambulance officers are often the first to respond to individuals in the community who experience
mental health or suicide crises, and they play a crucial role in providing acute care and facilitating onwards
referral to health services. In many cases, and without viable alternatives, police and ambulance officers
transport those in crisis to hospital emergency departments (EDs), where they are less likely to be seen
within clinically recommended waiting times than other types of presentation. This is occurring despite a
lack of compelling evidence to suggest that EDs are an optimal therapeutic environment for those in crisis,
and many individuals with lived experience vocalising the inappropriateness of EDs in meeting their needs.
In this presentation, we describe the results of Partners in Prevention: Understanding and Enhancing First
Responses to Suicide Crisis Situations, a holistic research programme that combines insights from a globally
unique data linkage study with the perspectives of individuals with lived experience of suicide. Based on
qualitative and quantitative research, we hypothesize that there are viable and effective person-centred
approaches to dealing with mental health crises.
Learning Objective 1: The audience will gain a contemporary understanding of evidence-informed opportunities to enhance responses to mental health and suicide crises.
Learning Objective 2: This study demonstrates a successful co-design initiative that embeds data driven insights within a meaningful partnership between stakeholders, including those with lived experience of suicide.
Australasian College for Emergency Medicine. 2018. Waiting Times in the Emergency Department for People with Acute Mental and Behavioural Conditions. Available online:
Meurk, C., Smith, J. 2018. Partners in Prevention – Understanding and enhancing first responses to suicide crisis situations: Outcomes of a lived experience summit workshop. Available online at: