In an Australian-first, the Black Dog Institute will investigate and develop a comprehensive, person-centred service for people who are at risk of suicide but have not sought help through formal channels.
Professor Helen Christensen, Director and Chief Scientist at the Black Dog Institute and lead investigator for the study says a new, digital-first approach is needed to save lives.
“Between 50-60 percent of people who die by suicide do not seek help from a health professional for their suicidal thoughts prior their deaths,” Prof Christensen said. “However, we know from recent research that the internet is a preferred method of help seeking. Our own data supports this – around 8000 people a year who complete a self-assessment via our Online Clinic feel suicidal every day but have not shared this fact with a health professional. We need to reach these people where they are, online, and provide a responsive style of help that meets their needs.”
While there are clear advantages to an internet-based service, such as accessibility, acceptability, high capacity and low cost, a digital response is likely to be only the start of the comprehensive plan of care needed for someone at risk.
“A system of care that assembles and integrates digital and non-digital services is urgently needed,” Prof Christensen says. “It will be critical to involve people with lived experience of suicide in the design of the service as well as work with a range of mental health care providers. Investigating and determining how to best integrate mental health services, combined with optimising treatment options, will be essential in developing effective care.”
The project will commence in July 2020 as part of the Black Dog Institute-led Centre for Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention. The research team includes Prof Katherine Boydell, Assoc Prof Samuel Harvey, Dr Jin Han and Dr Kit Huckvale from the Black Dog Institute along with colleagues from Calvary Mater Newcastle, Deakin University, Macquarie University and University of Technology, Sydney,
Funding for the project comes as part of the Commonwealth Government’s $20million commitment for research to improve mental health care and reduce suicide rates.
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