Evaluation of suicide prevention activities

13.2 Appropriateness

Page last updated: January 2014

Overall, the NSPP-funded projects conformed to the best practice recommendations of the LIFE Framework, providing a range of activities across the LIFE Action Areas, using a mix of approaches and targeting a broad range of groups known to be at higher risk of suicide. Importantly, this mix not only occurs at state/territory level but also within individual projects.

The project activities address most of the recognised target groups. Some gaps are evident at state/territory level in terms of the number of projects and the reported coverage of higher risk groups. However, other non-NSPP-funded initiatives (that are not part of this Evaluation) may be filling these gaps.

Those NSPP-funded projects that target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, reported using culturally appropriate interventions including gatekeeper training; community-based approaches to promote resilience; and community-healing approaches that promote cultural practices and cultural continuity, such as return to country trips.

A mix of universal, selective and indicated approaches was evident in project activities. A number of NSPP-funded projects used universal approaches to address media reporting of suicide and mental illness, and awareness-raising and promotion of help-seeking.

While gatekeeper training and community capacity-building activities were among the selective approaches reported by the 49 projects, considerable variations exist in how these activities were delivered between target groups and settings. Services for people bereaved by suicide featured prominently. While only one project targeted the knowledge and awareness of medical practitioners, there were a number of other initiatives that supported GPs to better identify and refer suicidal patients to appropriate care. These include initiatives such as the ATAPS Suicide Prevention service initiative (Section 4.8) and the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (Better Access) Program.

Several projects used indicated approaches aimed at improving access to care and support pathways for people following suicide attempts, for example, by improving transition from the emergency department to primary care or community mental health services.

Importantly, none of the NSPP-funded projects reported using activities or approaches that were identified in the peer-reviewed literature as potentially harmful. Survey responses from funded organisations indicated that research and evidence was used in project design and implementation for the majority of projects. The range of activities reported included a mix of innovative and established evidence-based activities in terms of target groups, settings and approaches.

NSPP project funding per capita varied considerably between jurisdictions. However, in general, jurisdictions with the lowest funding per capita were those with the lowest age-standardised suicide rate and those with the highest funding per capita were those with the highest age-standardised suicide rate. Jurisdictions with the greatest need (ie, highest age-standardised suicide rates) were therefore recipients of the highest funding per capita.