Evaluation of suicide prevention activities

8.7 Summary of key findings

Page last updated: January 2014

  • Outcome measurement using validated tools is rare among NSPP-funded activities. A range of quantitative and qualitative information was collected; however the dearth of validated and standardised tools limited the extent of comparison that could be made between projects engaged in similar activities across the program.
  • The absence of quantifiable outcome data restricted the extent to which the effectiveness of the NSPP could be evaluated.
  • Most projects, including those still in their infancy, reported having achieved their objectives.
  • Developing linkages between organisations, people and communities were high priority areas of work for many projects, with 92% of projects reporting that they collaborated with other organisations, and that extensive referral networks were developed.
  • DoHA staff that administer the NSPP-funded projects expressed concern that the existing reporting mechanisms (progress reports, final reports) did not adequately capture information about project outcomes and impacts.
  • 'Gatekeeper training', including training aimed at first responders such as police and other emergency services personnel and school-based training interventions, were the main strategies used to develop understanding of imminent risk and how best to intervene.
  • Most projects reported they were responding to perceived community need or working with a model that had been evaluated as effective in another setting.
  • Provision of suicide prevention resources and information was part of the activities of most projects. This was achieved through training, workshops, other promotional activities (eg, talks to community groups), development of websites, provision of print resources, research dissemination and encouraging publication of helplines in media articles.
  • Improved individual resilience and wellbeing was demonstrated by a number of projects, particularly those with an individual or community focus.
  • The extent to which the NSPP-funded projects promoted an environment that encourages and supports help-seeking was mixed.
  • Improved cohesion and resilience was reported in some well-defined target populations (eg, certain projects targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in rural/remote Australia).
  • Many of the projects improved community awareness of what is needed to prevent suicide.
  • Limited opportunities existed for projects to share strategies/best practice.
  • A range of projects improved capabilities to respond at points of imminent risk through providing access to counsellors/support.
  • While high levels of partnerships and linkages were reported in the survey, this was an area of challenge for many projects.
  • Policy stakeholders had significant shared vision and cooperation in relation to suicide prevention. However, many project staff reported a lack of knowledge about other suicide prevention initiatives.
  • There was little evidence that there were regionally integrated approaches operating.
  • The majority of funded projects undertook activities to improve access to support and care.
  • The ability to achieve long-term, structural change was beyond the scope of many projects. Many projects reported that this was partly due to the short-term nature of NSPP funding.
  • Several projects demonstrated improvements in knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of groups at high risk, but the extent to which this translated into reduced incidence of suicide or suicidal behaviour is not known.
  • A number of projects undertook activities that improved the understanding, skills and capacity of front-line workers, families and carers.
  • A number of projects demonstrated a commitment to shared learning and several projects were funded to either conduct or disseminate research. However there is scope to improve communication between projects.
  • Evaluations were not a requirement under all project funding agreements. This has implications for the level of systemic improvements that could be achieved.
  • Many project staff expressed a desire for greater support to evaluate their activities.
  • Analysis of aggregate data generated through the NSPP has not as yet been made available in the public domain or to projects funded.