National Suicide Prevention Trial: a coordinated approach to suicide prevention

Jan 27, 2022

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WARNING: This article makes reference to suicide and discussion on prevention activities, which some readers may find disturbing.

The Brisbane North region was one of 12 sites across Australia selected by the Australian Government to participate in the National Suicide Prevention Trial (the trial) program.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15-44. The trial’s aim was to find the most effective approaches to suicide prevention for at-risk populations and to share this knowledge.

The reasons people take their own life are complex and while suicide is a whole-of-population issue, there are particular groups that experience higher suicide rates in the Brisbane North region. They include:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – the suicide rate among this group is at least twice that of non-Indigenous Australians
  • people who identify as LGBTIQ+ are more likely to attempt suicide, to have thoughts of suicide and to have engaged in self-harm
  • young to middle aged men aged 24–54.

It is these higher risk groups who were the primary focus of activities carried out throughout the trial, which ran from 2016-2021.

Trial design and implementation was community-led and from the beginning, community members were actively engaged through consultation, commissioning and the implementation of the trial programs.

One service provider commented “Early co-design was exceptional because the PHN disseminated authority to the community and the community was happy to take the baton with the PHN’s support.”

Rather than working in silos, the PHN and community partners wanted to see a coordinated approach rolled out simultaneously across our region so a series of strategies could interconnect and have a greater impact.

Trial impact across the Brisbane North region

After five years of Trial activity, and with much of the service delivery continuing for a sixth year, many people, organisations and communities have been positively impacted by trial activities. Brisbane North PHN engaged New Word Order to undertake several activities to ascertain the impact of the Trial activities.

Below is a summary of what was achieved up to December 2020 with our community partners during the five year Trial:

  • over 150 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, plus their families, carers and dependents, were supported via Kurbingui’s aftercare program – which incorporated psychological and psychosocial support. Additional support was also provided to youth through the Strong Deadly Spirits program
  • 321 members of the LGBTI community received psychological and psychosocial support delivered by the Centre for Human Potential, Queensland Council for LGBTI+ Health and Open Doors Youth Service
  • 100+ GPs, practice nurses and practice staff participated in suicide prevention awareness and skill development workshops
  • approximately 100 mental health professionals who work directly and extensively with people experiencing suicidality participated in advanced training via The Screening Tool for Assessing Risk of Suicide (STARS) program
  • 64 community members who support the LGBTI+ community participated in training to increase their awareness of suicide and their early intervention skills
  • 100 peer workers participated in online training supporting the development of skills in identifying people at risk of suicide and enabling them to appropriately support that person to safety
  • over 80 school students participated in Project Yarning Circle, a program delivered by Y2K to build resilience against suicide through cultural awareness and connectedness, mental health education and tools to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to cope with everyday stresses
  • 130 young people were supported through the Open Doors Youth Service, who engaged with schools and community groups to support resilience building and promote help seeking
  • 500+ young to middle aged men participated in Mates in Construction training and activities
  • developed the Yarns Heal suicide prevention campaign for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTI+ Sistergirl and Brotherboy communities - developed under the leadership of IndigiLez and gar’ban’djee’lum
  • Yarns Heal retreats and Yarns around the Fire initiatives, which ran alongside the campaign, brought together community members in a safe and supportive forum to share their experiences. These initiatives were led by Queensland Council for LGBTI Health in partnership with IndigiLez and gar’ban’djee’lum.
* July 1 2018 to December 2020. Data includes estimates of people engaged during community events and registered participants at training and activities.

Download the Brisbane North National Suicide Prevention Trial: Summary of findings.

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