Evaluation of suicide prevention activities

11.6 Gaps and opportunities in national suicide prevention efforts

Page last updated: January 2014

Stakeholders provided a range of responses in relation to perceived gaps in suicide prevention activities. These included a stronger focus on emerging or under-recognised target groups, including:

  • Youth (particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth)
  • People recently released from prison
  • Men who have been involved with Family Court matters
  • People who have recently separated or divorced
  • Refugees
  • Elderly people
  • People who have previously attempted suicide or self-harmed (to better understand and respond to their needs beyond the immediate crisis period).
Stakeholders also stressed that while Australia's approach to suicide prevention needs an overarching structure, it must also be flexible enough to respond to societal changes. Examples included addressing the role of the social media in influencing suicide and self-harm risk, the needs of the veteran community and the impact of socio-demographic changes on the distribution of risk across society. Examples of the latter include reportedly higher rates of suicide amongst ‘fly-in fly-out’ workers, and amongst men in the rock lobster fishing industry in Western Australia as a result of job losses.

Although the Australian Government has taken a leadership role in suicide prevention through the Living is For Everyone (LIFE) website, many stakeholders called for greater Australian Government leadership and coordination across the spectrum of suicide prevention activities as outlined in Section 11.5.

In response to questions about where the Australian Government should focus its suicide prevention funding, two distinct opinions were voiced. A number of experts argued that it was appropriate to fund a broad range of suicide prevention initiatives covering a range of target groups, settings, intervention points and activities. The rationale for this was that since the aetiology of suicide is complex and multifactorial, the response should reflect this. The alternate view was that the government should concentrate its efforts on a narrower range of interventions that have been proven to be effective, and to roll these out consistently. Several stakeholders commented that the NSPP should look to 'scale up' effective initiatives. Within both camps there was unanimous agreement that research and evaluation needs a stronger commitment and better resourcing – a view reflected in the recommendations and conclusions made within the previous evaluations of the NSPS/NSPP (see Section 3.11) and the Senate Inquiry into Suicide (as outlined in Section 3.4).