2019 Faculty of Education Annual Lecture Presented by Dr Chris Bowden

2019 Faculty of Education Annual Lecture Presented by Dr Chris Bowden

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23 October 2019 from 6.00 pm - 7.00 pm 23 Oct 2019 6:00 pm 23 Oct 2019 7:00 pm

Hunter Council Chamber Level 2, Hunter Building Victoria University of Wellington

'Working in the void: suicide, suffering, trauma, and transformation'

In our inaugural annual lecture, Dr Chris Bowden will discuss his personal journey and experiences as a suicide educator.

chris bowden

The 'void' is a liminal and transformative space that people bereaved and affected by suicide often find themselves in after experiencing suicide-related loss and trauma. Suicide is often a result of suffering and the cause of suffering in those left behind who grieve, struggle to make sense, and cope.

Problem-saturated discourses around suicide can add to the hopelessness, helplessness, and despair that many suicide-loss survivors experience. Education is a key component of effective suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention, and to promoting coping and resiliency.

Chris will talk about the art and science of suicide education and draw on his experiences working with and educating rangatahi/young people, families/whānau, educators, and others working in communities. He will discuss what it means to bear witness to suffering, to help survivors navigate the void, learn and relearn to be in the world, and the importance of promoting ‘second stories’ of survivors—stories of courage, transformation, and hope.

Free to attend.


Dr Chris Bowden (PhD Health), MA, BA(Hons, first class) is a lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Victoria University of Wellington. He grew up in Dunedin and graduated from the University of Otago after studying education and psychology specialising in adolescent suicide. Chris joined Victoria University of Wellington after managing a national research project on resiliency and working as an information officer for Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand.

Chris lectures in human development, child and adolescent development, child and adolescent mental health, and in the Master of Educational Psychology programme. His research interests include suicide bereavement, grief and loss, coping, trauma, and resiliency. His PhD focused on young men’s experiences of losing a close friend to suicide. Chris was the recipient of a Victoria University of Wellington Teaching Excellence Award in 2012, and the VUWSA award for Best Lecturer in the School of Education in 2008 and 2019.

Chris delivers professional development and education to a wide range of education, health, and social service providers. He also provides support and advice to regional suicide prevention and postvention coordinators, and is an agent of the Regional Child and Youth Mortality Review Group, which works to make recommendations to prevent deaths and improve systems and responses. Together with the Skylight Trust, Chris developed New Zealand’s first professionally-led eight-week psycho-educational programme (Waves) for adults bereaved by suicide. Waves is an evidence-based educational intervention delivered nationally that helps people develop coping and resiliency after suicide. In 2018, Chris was a recipient of a Life Keepers National Suicide Prevention Award. Chris is an advocate of solutions-focused approaches and trauma-informed care, and has been working in the area of suicide prevention and postvention for many years.