Understanding suicide prevention

Understanding the evidence base and policy content for suicide prevention is important if we are going to reduce suicide in Australia.

What is suicide prevention?

Suicide prevention is focused on reducing risk factors for suicide and enhancing protective factors. It requires coordinated and combined action from all levels of government, health care systems, frontline health and community workers, workplaces, schools and other educational settings, community groups, the media, and individuals, families and communities.

A successful coordinated response to suicide should prioritise cost-effective and evidence-based approaches that focus on intervening as early as possible with those experiencing suicidal thoughts and behaviours. But it should also look outside the health and other service systems, and think broadly about tackling the factors that may increase or decrease risk in individuals and communities.

The evidence base for suicide prevention

Despite investment in international, national and state suicide prevention strategies, there are still gaps in the evidence regarding the effectiveness of individual interventions upon which to base preventative strategies. Better integration of research with program and service responses over time will help to build and enhance the evidence base for suicide prevention.

Reviews of the international evidence have supported the adoption of a multi-faceted approach to suicide prevention. This includes a combination of public health approaches, treatment approaches and community capacity building. The types of interventions that hold the most promise based on research, include:

  • Reducing access to means of suicide
  • Implementing guidelines related to the reporting of suicide in the media
  • Training ‘gatekeepers’ (including general practitioners, police, teachers, prison staff etc.) to identify and support people at risk of suicide
  • Enhancing early access to treatment and referral pathways for people at risk of suicide
  • Delivery of evidence-based therapies to people at risk of suicide or experiencing mental ill-health, such as cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Postvention interventions to support individuals and communities bereaved or impacted by suicide
  • Multi-modal interventions which combine primary prevention, secondary prevention and early intervention approaches – for example, education programs for community members connected with gatekeeper training and enhanced treatment and referral pathways.

Prevention First Framework

Everymind has developed a plain-language Framework to describe suicide prevention activity. 

Learn More

Back to Prevention approaches