Evaluation of suicide prevention activities

9.1 Enablers

Page last updated: January 2014

Four key enablers that positively impacted on project effectiveness were identified:

9.1.1 Community engagement

Engaging a wide range of community members in projects was an important way to ensure suicide prevention messages were disseminated as widely as possible. Examples of this engagement included:
  • Continued attempts to improve attendance at events. Inviting parents and community members to dance events and graduation ceremonies or encouraging them to assist with the running of a sports team improved community involvement and pride in the outcomes achieved.
  • Use of innovative approaches such as art classes, art exhibitions or cultural performances which help projects reach a wider audience.
  • In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, encouraging elders to engage in the development of suicide prevention messages and materials promoted community ownership of the messages and meant that the information was much more likely to be relevant and accepted as culturally appropriate. This in turn increased the likelihood of its success and effectiveness.
  • Working in class environments was important for some projects.
  • Media activities which were an aspect of several projects, reach a wide audience and assist with educating media workers about how to deal with suicide sensitively, appropriately and in ways that reduce the risks of further harm related to reporting (eg stimulating 'copy-cat' type behaviours).

9.1.2 Strong relationships

Relationships emerged as the key enabler which facilitated the successful implementation of NSPP-funded projects. Relationships were particularly important in terms of facilitating greater community engagement.

Relationships in this context however, were multifaceted and included both external (with other organisations) and internal (between staff/volunteers) components. External relationships not only included the community in which the project was set, but also other service providers in the area, and stakeholders such as police or ambulance services. The presence of positive relationships among workers in a healthy, productive team environment was cited as a key internal enabler. One project reported that 'the workers seemed pleased that [NSPP-funded project's] presence in and around the building and construction industry was continuous, consistent and a resource which they could draw on for support as required'.

Additionally, relationships that were built and maintained led to other contacts and the potential for expansion of program work. Top of page

9.1.3 Existing networks

Using existing networks and building on previous work helped projects to get established. Extensive networking and relationship building was particularly important in the early stages of a project and required ongoing attention in order to help the project grow and embed in the community. In some smaller communities, local responsiveness and a close-knit community meant that workers tended to know one another and were able to establish networks and understand the issues leading to difficulties in the community.

9.1.4 Productive project teams

Maintaining a well-functioning, productive team with paid full or part time staff, casual staff and/or volunteers was a challenge but vitally important in delivering high quality services. Achieving team cohesiveness through regular training, mentoring and social interaction with the team, as well as through long-term investment in staff wellbeing via supervision and wellbeing assessment processes was identified as important but difficult to achieve, particularly for projects in isolated areas. Suicide prevention work can be stressful and challenging and staff wellbeing required continued attention.

Recruiting the right personnel was also found to be very challenging, but when recruitment strategies worked well and people remained in roles for an extended period of time, performance was reported as superior.

Key findings

Strong relationships within the community, between service providers, and with other stakeholders such as police or ambulance services, as well as positive relationships among workers in a productive team, were key enablers for projects.