Evaluation of suicide prevention activities

11.2 The spectrum of suicide prevention activities in Australia

Page last updated: January 2014

Through consultations with STO and CO staff, jurisdictional representatives, peak body representatives and other suicide prevention experts, a picture has emerged of the range of initiatives underway that impact on suicide prevention. This has been supplemented with further information gleaned from a desktop review of the policy literature. Section 11.2.1 gives some indication of the breadth of initiatives underway at the national level, noting that this is not a complete list.

National initiatives
State and territory initiatives

11.2.1 National initiatives

Table 11-1 covers some of the key national initiatives.

    Table 11-1: Selected key national initiatives

    Table 11-1 is presented as a list in this html version - it is presented in a box in the original PDF version.
  • NSPP and TATS-funded projects
  • MindMatters and KidsMatter
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention activity
  • Development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy
  • Renewal of the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing (in development)
  • Research bodies and related funding, including the Black Dog Institute, the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, the Hunter Institute for Mental Health and beyondblue’s research program
  • Acute, sub-acute and community mental health services
  • ATAPS, the Better Access initiative, and other programs offered through Medicare Locals
  • Initiatives under the National Drug Strategy
  • Aged care programs
  • Initiatives under A Stronger, Fairer Australia – Australia’s social inclusion policy, including a range of strategies that address unemployment, homelessness, disability and other key forms of disadvantage, all of which are risk factors for suicide
  • Initiatives run by headspace – Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation – including headspace centres, headspace school support and headspace online counselling
  • beyondblue services
  • Helplines, including Lifeline, Kids Helpline and MensLine Australia
  • Initiatives that support GPs (and other primary care health professionals) including GP Psych Support, Primary Mental Health Care, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) mental health page and Suicide Questions, Answers and Resources (SQUARE)
  • Online counselling and self-help services, such as the MoodGYM program established by the Centre for Mental Health Research at Australian National University
  • Programs delivered through the Department of Veterans Affairs, such as Operation Life
  • Indigenous initiatives and mental health programs delivered through Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), such as Personal Helpers and Mentors Services (PHaMS) Top of page

11.2.2 State and territory initiatives

It is not feasible within this evaluation to conduct a mapping exercise of all suicide preventions activities occurring at state/territory level. This is a challenging task which has been taken on by researchers in some jurisdictions90, however, a key methodological issue with such mapping studies relates to the definition of what constitutes suicide prevention activity.

While every state and territory used the LIFE Framework in the development of their individual suicide prevention strategies, part of the complexity of mapping suicide prevention activities lies in the way that each Australian jurisdiction operationalises their own suicide prevention strategy. Most jurisdictions use capacity-building approaches involving the development of community networks or community reference groups to tailor suicide prevention responses to local needs (including in those areas that experience high rates, or 'spikes', in suicide). This approach aims to foster a sense of ownership over, and responsibility for, suicide prevention in all parts of society, including businesses, schools, sporting and other community groups. As such, the intention is that the prevention of suicide and self-harming behaviour becomes embedded within the community, and in the process many of the activities undertaken are no longer considered under the banner of ‘suicide prevention’ but, rather, are activities that aim to improve community connectedness, harmony and wellbeing.

Similarly, jurisdictional governments are moving towards a more integrated approach to suicide prevention, whereby the responsibility for suicide prevention stretches across all portfolios and is driven through all areas of government activity. For these reasons, it is extremely difficult to accurately depict the depth of activity that impacts on suicide prevention at state/territory level.

90 Queensland Health, A mapping exercise of existing suicide prevention programs and services in Queensland, report prepared by Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, accessed 24 April 2013.