Priority 3: Preventing suicide

Suicide and attempting suicide are the most devastating consequences of mental distress. We know suicidal behaviour results from interaction between many factors in a person’s life, including their social and economic circumstances and their culture and individual history. A wealth of evidence shows suicide can be prevented through strategies aimed at individuals and entire communities.

This is a 2015-18 priority because

  • If we make a clear commitment to rigorously understanding the causes of suicide and the best means for preventing it, we can act on this knowledge in order to save people’s lives
  • Some groups in our community are affected by suicide at much greater rates than others. This is an injustice that we have an obligation to challenge and remedy.

2015-2017 Projects

NSW Suicide Prevention Advisory Group

In 2016 the Commission established the NSW Suicide Prevention Advisory Group, to advise the Mental Health Commissioner on issues relating to suicide prevention and to improve the planning, monitoring and co-ordination of suicide prevention activities in NSW. The Group meets every six months.

Living Well Action 3.4.1

Scoping a systems approach to suicide prevention

In 2015, the Commission funded the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Centre of Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention to develop, with the Black Dog Institute, a model to investigate whether dramatic reductions in the suicide rate could be achieved if multiple interventions known to be successful were integrated and applied simultaneously. Black Dog researchers believe that such a “systems approach” could lower suicides and attempted suicides by 20 per cent within two years. In this project, the research team collected information to determine the feasibility and methods required to establish a systems approach to suicide prevention in one regional and one metropolitan area of NSW. Their resulting model, the proposed Suicide Prevention Framework for NSW, was launched at a National Suicide Prevention Summit at Parliament House in Canberra on 10 August 2015.

Based on this foundational work, in December 2015 the Black Dog Institute secured $14.7 million from the Ramsay Foundation, the largest ever philanthropic donation to suicide prevention in Australia’s history, to support a NSW trial of the systems approach. Now called LifeSpan, the systems approach is being trialled in four sites covering the following local government areas: Newcastle; Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama and Shoalhaven; Gosford and Wyong; Bland, Cootamundra, Griffith, Hay, Junee, Leeton, Tumut Shire, Wagga Wagga, and Young.

Download the Implementation plan for the systems approach to suicide prevention in NSW Summary Paper 1.2 MB

Living Well Action 3.4.2 and 3.4.5

Conversations Matter

Conversations Matter is an online guide to help individuals, professionals and communities have safe, supportive and productive conversations about suicide. Since its beginnings in 2013, the resource has grown to include materials tailored for professionals working with Aboriginal communities and culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Conversations Matters is a partnership project of the Commission and the Hunter Institute for Mental Health.

Living Well Actions 3.4.3 and 7.2.2

Communities Matter

Communities Matter is a practical toolkit to support small towns to turn conversations and interest in suicide prevention into activities that reflect local need. The toolkit outlines, in plain English, evidence-informed suicide prevention strategies to support communities to undertake suicide prevention activities and combat stigma. Communities Matter is a partnership project of the Commission and Suicide Prevention Australia.

Living Well Action 3.4.3

iBobbly app for Aboriginal young people

In 2015, the Commission contracted the Black Dog Institute to extend and improve the content of the iBobbly smartphone app, which uses evidence-based and culturally appropriate content to reach young Aboriginal people who are at risk of suicide, and who have very low levels of help-seeking. The project has made iBobbly more relevant and engaging to a wider group of users, in order to facilitate its uptake and evaluation regions outside Broome, where it was originally piloted. Other partners are Alive & Kicking Goals!, HITnet Innovations, Thoughtworks, Muru Marri Indigenous Health Unit UNSW, the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre (YAW-CRC) and BackTrack (Armidale). The iBobbly app is currently undergoing a national trial.

Download the NSW iBobbly report.

Living Well Actions 2.2.6 and 3.4.3

Language when talking about suicide

Beyondblue has some tips on how to avoid stigmatising terminology here.

Last updated: 20 June 2017

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