Measuring efficiency in the suicide prevention context faces two key challenges:
- Lack of outcome data
- Difficulties assessing the cost of suicide and consequent economic benefit of prevention
However, as detailed in Chapter 8, outcome measurement using validated tools has been rare among NSPP-funded projects. Only three of the 47 projects conducted evaluations that measured outcomes using validated tools (see Section 8.3). Challenges associated with outcome measurement are identified in Chapter 8, and Chapter 12 identifies ways to improve outcome measurement in future.
A further key challenge is that there is limited information available about the financial cost of suicide in Australia (see Appendix E), making it difficult to determine the economic benefit of prevention. Indeed, the report on the Senate Inquiry into Suicide, The Hidden Toll 87, sought to address this deficit by recommending that the Australian Government commission a detailed independent economic assessment of the cost of suicide and attempted suicide in Australia.
Given these limitations, the efficiency of NSPP-funded projects was examined from the following perspectives:
- Apparent cost efficiency of projects, calculated by relating costs to outputs (ie, hours of service delivered) to enable analysis and comparison of average cost-per-hour of service delivery (Section 10.2)
- Sustainability of projects (Section 10.3)
- Potential efficiency improvements, based on consultations with projects and the Department (section 10.4 and section 10.5)