By Ruth L. Formosa Ventura (Executive Committee Member, WBP) and Annemarie Schumacher-Dimech (Co-founder and President, WBP)

On the first day of the International Forum on Women’s Brain and Mental Health, taking place virtually on 19-20 September this year, WBP will be discussing why we need to consider sex and gender differences throughout the lifespan, with examples from childhood to late adulthood. Three key questions will be explored throughout the program and during each panel: What are the issues? What are the relevant sex differences? What needs to be done?


Panel 1: Suicide in adolescents and young adults

The first panel will address self-destructive behaviour in adolescents and young adults from a gender perspective. In particular, we will focus on young suicide and related risk factors while considering gender differences. 

The introduction will be done by a person who has had a direct experience of young suicide. This story’s main intention is to highlight the importance of creating awareness, the risks involved around suicide, and what contributes towards effective prevention.

A better understanding of gender differences is of particular relevance since such differences have been observed in various research reports (e.g. Lewinsohn et al., 2001; Ruch et al., 2019). Most importantly differences related to risk factors, especially modifiable risk factors, could contribute to more effective preventive measures (Kleimann & Liu, 2013).


Gender differences in young suicide

PAPYRUS was founded in 1997 by a mother from Lancashire, Jean Kerr, following the loss of her son to suicide. PAPYRUS was initially set up as the Parents’ Association for the Prevention of Young Suicide, hence the name PAPYRUS. Since then the organization has continued to listen to and learn from the experiences of those personally touched by young suicide. Today, PAPYRUS works in many ways to prevent young suicide. Their work centres around three key principles: Support, Equip, and Influence.

Sarah Skelton will provide an introduction to young suicide and how this is experienced by the young person’s family and society. In particular, Papyrus will outline gender differences observed in young suicide.


The role of sociocultural factors in risk of young suicide with focus on gender

Maurizio Pompili, M.D., Ph.D. is currently Professor of Suicidology and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Medical School II of Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. Prof. Pompili is part of the IASP Task Force for Emergency Medicine and Suicidal Behavior, and has been the Italian representative for IASP for several years. He is also a member of the International Academy for Suicide Research and the American Association of Suicidology. 

Prof. Pompili will provide an overview of sociocultural factors linked to suicide risk and the role of gender.

The moderator of the panel will be Kathryn Goetzke, MBA, President and CEO, Innovative Analysis, Inc., Founder, iFred. 

Kathryn Goetzke is an entrepreneur, strategic consultant and global depression advocate. She is the entrepreneur behind Mood-lites™, a brand that achieved over 35 million dollars in retail sales and raised over $1 million for charities through cause marketing. She is also the President of the Board and a Founder of

Kathryn lost her father to suicide at age 19, and has personally battled her own depression, anxiety, addictions, PTSD, and ADHD. Through support, treatment, and lifestyle changes, she is able to manage it while making a positive impact in business and global mental health. 

We are still waiting to hear back from a few other potential speakers.

To find out more about this panel as it continues to take shape, or to participate in the conversation, follow us on social media under @womensbrainpro or register now for the International Forum on Women’s Brain and Mental Health if you have not yet done so! The Forum will offer registered participants pre-recorded talks and keynotes in addition to virtual interactive discussions by experts taking place on September 19-20, 2020.

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