Positive feedback for youth suicide prevention program

A new service for suicide prevention for young people in Victoria has received positive feedback from a group of its first clients. Australian researchers surveyed 28 young people who used the service, which has been operating within a Victorian public youth health service since early 2022.

The service was designed by young people and carers with lived experience of youth suicide and involves three months of intensive outreach from a team of psychiatric, psychological, psychosocial and lived experience staff.

The clients surveyed gave positive feedback about the service being given outside a clinical setting, including practical support for life tasks they were struggling with, assisting parents, and the lived experience staff helping them feel understood and hopeful. Some who were surveyed suggested the program was too short, however, and said assistance transitioning to another service at the end of the three months would be useful. The researchers say the principles behind this service could be used to set up similar services elsewhere.

Suicide prevention services targeting struggling young people have proven to be successful in reducing suicide risk, and distress and in improving overall wellbeing, according to new Swinburne-led research.

The evaluation of a three-month Melbourne service, designed at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic for young people at risk of suicide, was carried out by the team at Swinburne University of Technology and Alfred Health.

Lead author from Swinburne’s Centre for Mental Health, Professor Denny Meyer, says the findings are positive for the future of mental health care, suggesting that services of this nature –  that focus on peer and psycho-social support – can have real benefits for young people at serious risk of suicide.

“We found that the young people using this three-month service experienced significant reductions in suicide risk and psychological distress, which were associated with significant improvements in quality of life and reductions in the use of hospital services.”

Professor Meyer hopes that these promising results will prompt further services to be designed, particularly those supporting young people for more than a year.

“We hope the findings from this evaluation will be helpful for those wanting to implement other services of this nature in other locations,” she said.

“In particular, the principles of co-design, peer support and planning for future service provision should be incorporated in any such service, regardless of whether the service is offered using eHealth or face-to-face.”

 

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