Ethical design in suicide prevention debuts at NGV’s Melbourne design week 2021

Ethical design in suicide prevention debuts at NGV’s Melbourne design week 2021

24 March 2021

Co-designing safe online spaces for young people to talk about suicide was the theme of a special panel event and exhibition as part of the recent NGV’s Melbourne Design Week.

The event, opened by the federal Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt, featured a panel conversation on how young people, researchers, and industry could work collectively to navigate sensitive and often taboo topics, such as suicide, while exploring how engaging and trusting young designers in co-design practices could lead to campaigns that are inclusive, relatable, and meaningful.

Associate Professor Jo Robinson, Orygen’s head of suicide prevention research said Orygen was delighted to take part in the 2021 Melbourne Design Week.

“We welcomed the opportunity to showcase how care and empathy had played an integral role in developing #chatsafe content - designed with young people, for young people as part of Orygen’s suicide prevention research.”

The #chatsafe guidelines are the world’s first tools and tips designed to help young people communicate safely online about suicide. In 2019, #chatsafe launched a nation-wide social media campaign that was entirely co-designed by young people. Since then, the guidelines have been further developed into local languages for Brazil, Finland, Hong Kong, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, South Korea, Singapore, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

“The panellists included the voices of leading researchers in youth suicide prevention, communication design students, design lecturers and industry professionals who shared their perspectives on the collaborative process of co-designing safe online spaces for young people when talking about mental health and suicide,” Associate Professor Robinson said.

“We discussed themes of designing for self-care and suicide prevention – doing ‘care-full’ design calls for new ways of thinking of the role of the design, new ways of designing and new inclusive co-design processes.’

The event also featured young people, including RMIT students, who presented their work and discussed their experiences designing a campaign around youth suicide prevention – presenting a careful and ethical approach to design education and contemporary design practice.

“The event truly highlighted the ethical co-design process used by #chatsafe, and how researchers, young people and RMIT students have continued to contribute to a safe and ethical design process to ensure young people can access safe online spaces to speak about suicide,” Professor Robinson said.