Evaluation of suicide prevention activities

13.1 Evaluation overview

Page last updated: January 2014

This Evaluation analysed NSPP-funded project activities from 2006 to 2013 and had two broad objectives:

  • Evaluate existing activity under the NSPP and new activities funded under the 2010 TATS package, in order to determine appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of these activities within the broader policy context.
  • Inform the evidence base for future policy direction and implementation of suicide prevention activity and create and put in place a comprehensive evaluation framework for ongoing use.
A mixed methods approach was used in the conduct of this Evaluation, using both quantitative and qualitative data sources. The historical component of project activities was assessed by means of a desktop review of existing documentation and data for each of the in-scope NSPP-funded projects. This included funding agreements, progress reports, final reports, internal evaluations and external evaluation reports. Gaps identified in the data provided were addressed via a survey of NSPP-funded organisations.

A Minimum Data Set (MDS) was developed and implemented, consisting of a series of data items specifically designed to support the current and ongoing evaluation of NSPP- and TATS-funded activities. Data collection using the MDS began on 1 October 2012 and continued until the end of March 2013. All 47 projects funded during the period provided MDS data, albeit incomplete data in a few cases.

Consultations were held with a range of key stakeholders and two literature reviews were undertaken to support the evaluation activities. Published evaluation reports of the Access to Allied Psychological Services Suicide Prevention Program (ATAPS Suicide Prevention Program) and MindMatters were also considered.

Throughout this Evaluation, an advisory group provided critical feedback regarding the direction of the evaluation and its findings.

A number of limitations and caveats apply to the findings that follow. These include internal data limitations such as incomplete data and the relatively short timeframe of the Evaluation, and external factors such as the significant challenges related to the evaluation of suicide prevention programs, which are well recognised in the sector. These external challenges include the fact that suicide is a statistically rare event, attribution is difficult and there are many issues related to the quality and timeliness of suicide data.