Dr Lyndal Bugeja
Melbourne School of Population Health, Centre for Health Policy, Programs and Economics
Coroners Court of Victoria
Department of Justice
Beyond Blue Victorian Centre of Excellence
Project completion year
Suicide is a leading cause of death globally, and in Australia accounts for 2,000 deaths annually. Research has shown that most people who die from suicide have had contact with health services in the weeks or months leading up to their death. Health and other services may be well placed to identify persons at risk of suicide and provide treatment or support. This study sought to quantify the presence, nature and proximity of service contact by persons who died from suicide in Victoria during 2009 and 2010.
During the two-year study period, 1,123 deaths were classified as suicide in the Coroners Court of Victoria’s Victorian Suicide Register (VSR); these included 618 suicide deaths among people with a diagnosed mental illness and 505 among people with no diagnosed mental illness). An examination of service contact by the presence of a diagnosed mental illness identified the following priorities for suicide prevention:
- Improved mental health literacy at the community level, at workplaces and in sport and recreational clubs/associations.
- Expansion of mental health specialization within general practice.
- Development of an alternative service model within or in addition to health services to respond to persons experiencing a personal / social crisis, specifically one that can assist with the management or resolution of stressors such as interpersonal relationships, the workplace or finances.
- Improve access to crisis services in regional areas that takes into account the relevant geographic and social contexts.
- Greater co-ordination of specialist alcohol and drug (AOD) treatment and mental health services to increase engagement in drug and alcohol treatment amongst persons with a diagnosed mental illness.
- Expand alcohol and drug treatment outreach to persons over 21 years to increase engagement.
- Development of a multi-factorial approach to treat mood (affective) disorders in the primary care setting.
- Focus on suicide risk mitigation for male perpetrators of interpersonal violence.
- Potential opportunities for suicide intervention occasioned by police needs to be further explored.
Download the Identification and analysis of health service and pathways to health services contact amongst persons who suicided in Victoria 2009-2010 final report.