RMIT: Ethical design in suicide prevention

Created by the #chatsafe suicide prevention research team at Orygen, together with RMIT students, #SafeSpace features real stories from young people with lived experience of suicide.
The stories highlight hope and recovery and look to normalise conversations about mental ill-health and suicide.

The project was part of a communication design studio focused on teaching students how to be ethical and careful designers, while creating safe learning spaces online that prioritised self-care.

RMIT Communication design students Linsy Angwyn, Joanne Pangkey and Matilda Heeps in front of their work at the Melbourne Design Week exhibition of Ethical Design in Suicide PreventionRMIT Communication design students Linsy Angwyn, Joanne Pangkey and Matilda Heeps in front of their work at the Melbourne Design Week exhibition of Ethical Design in Suicide Prevention
Associate Professor Jo Robinson, head of suicide prevention research at Orygen said she hoped #SafeSpace could be an accessible place for young people to find real stories of hope.

“We often talk about the importance of sharing stories of hope and recovery, but we don’t really provide examples of what that means,” she said.

“At #chatsafe we have always tried really hard to give young people clear tips and advice rather than vague suggestions.

“With #SafeSpace we really wanted to operationalise what we mean by stories of hope and recovery in a way that is accessible and relatable for other young people”.

Ethical Design in suicide prevention was part of Melbourne Design Week 2021. The event featuring our panellists and opened by the the Hon Greg Hunt, Minister for Health. From left: Celia Delaney from Portable, Dr Nicola St John from RMIT, A/Prof Jo Robinson from Orygen, the Hon Greg Hunt, Minister for Health, and RMIT Communication design students Joanne Pangkey and Linsy AngwynEthical Design in suicide prevention was part of Melbourne Design Week 2021. The event featuring our panellists andFrom left: Celia Delaney from Portable, Dr Nicola St John from RMIT, A/Prof Jo Robinson from Orygen, the Hon Greg Hunt, Minister for Health, and RMIT Communication design students Joanne Pangkey and Linsy Angwyn
The #SafeSpace project featured at Melbourne Design Week where studio creator and lecturer in communication design at RMIT, Dr Nicola St John and her students discussed how engaging and trusting young designers in co-design practices can lead to campaigns that are inclusive, relatable and meaningful.

St John said her teaching practice fostered socially responsible designers by bridging the gap between working ethically, centralising safe spaces, and collaborating on real world projects that are meaningful to students.
“Partnering with #chatsafe has ultimately transformed my teaching approach to one that is more vulnerable, trusting, and caring,” she said.
“Working in collaboration and being supported by #chatsafe also enabled me to understand my role in creating safe spaces as helping the students to design a campaign in an empathetic, sensitive, and ethical way, and to position myself as someone who was also learning alongside the students. “

Linsy Angwny, one of the students who co-designed #SafeSpace, said she hoped the project would remind other young people that they are not alone in their journey.

“I’m very passionate about mental health, and suicide is a topic that is very personal to me,” Angwny said.

“We hoped #SafeSpace could bring hope and recovery to other young people out there.”

Suicide prevention team lead researcher, Dr Louise La Sala worked closely with RMIT students, Joanne Pankey, Linsy Angwny and Matilda Heeps in the making of #SafeSpace.

“Everything we do at #chatsafe is by young people, for young people, so it was really important to us that we partnered with young people to help share these stories,” she said.

“Not only are these real stories from young people who have shared their lived experience with us, but these students from RMIT have brought them to life in a way that is age appropriate, safe, and meaningful”.

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