Angela Nicholas, Jane Pirkis, Alyssia Rossetto, Anthony Jorm, Jo Robinson, Nicola Reavley
University of Melbourne Centre for Mental Health; Whereto Research-Based Consulting
Project completion year
A significant proportion of people who die by suicide are not in contact with mental or general health services. An important role for family members and friends in identifying and responding to potential suicide risk is therefore indicated.
This research project was designed to discover means to increase the public’s motivation, confidence and ability to identify and support someone at risk of suicide, and included five components:
- Literature reviews of suicide prevention campaigns worldwide.
- An expert consensus study (consumers and suicide prevention professionals).
- Qualitative study (focus groups and interviews).
- Online questionnaire with Blue Voices members (personal experience of suicide).
- National community telephone survey.
The research found that Australian adults generally have positive attitudes to suicide prevention and are confident to support someone they know well who may be at risk. However, some gaps in knowledge and confidence were discovered:
- Supportive behaviours were common, but direct questions about suicide risk were less common.
- Beliefs that helping a person at risk of suicide requires the skill of a professional.
- Some actions intended to be helpful may be experienced as unhelpful for the person in distress.
- Lack of knowledge about non-verbal warning signs, and lack of confidence in assessing the difference between distress and potential suicide risk.
Recommendations for a suicide prevention campaign aimed at family members and friends of a person in severe distress or at risk of suicide are presented.
Suggested citation: Nicholas, A., Pirkis, J., Rossetto, A., Jorm, A., Robinson, J., & Reavley, N. (2017). Suicide Prevention Research and Campaign: Integrated findings and recommendations.
Suicide Prevention Research full report.