Evaluation of suicide prevention activities

1.6 Opportunities for program improvement

Page last updated: January 2014

Based on the findings of this Evaluation, including consultation with stakeholders, the following opportunities for program improvement are presented for consideration, under the headings of effectiveness, efficiency and appropriateness.


1. Positioning suicide prevention

Suicide prevention should be promoted as a whole-of-government and whole-of-community endeavour that stretches beyond the domain of mental health/illness.

2. Evaluation

All Australian Government-funded suicide prevention activities should be rigorously evaluated, with adequate support, access to expertise and resourcing to do this. Where possible, the findings from these evaluations should be made available in the public domain.

3. Improving outcome measurement

A range of factors at project and national level need to be considered to improve outcome measurement and thus facilitate a greater range and depth of evaluation of NSPP activities.

Project-level considerations include: capacity building; oversight and information sharing regarding the use of appropriate qualitative and quantitative tools/measures; and expanding collaborations/partnerships between projects and the research sector to bridge the evidence-practice gap. Outcome evaluation at the macro level (state/territory/national level) is a matter for public health specialists, not individual projects.

At a national level, the key considerations are data related and involve inclusion of suicide attempts (not just completed suicides) as outcome measures, improved data linkages and ongoing improvement of suicide death data.


4. Economic analysis

A detailed independent economic assessment is needed of the cost of suicide and attempted suicide in Australia in order to determine the economic benefit of prevention, to help inform future investment decisions.

5. Administration

Consideration should be given to administering NSPP funding through a single office in order to improve efficiencies and reduce duplication and fragmentation of suicide prevention efforts.

6. Funding

Funding surety would assist projects with recruitment, expansion and sustainability. An open and transparent tendering process would ensure that innovative suicide prevention approaches are supported alongside established programs. Top of page


7. Strengthening DoHA's role

Opportunities for strengthening the Australian Government’s role in leading and coordinating suicide prevention activities across Australia should be explored. This includes considering:
  • Better coordination between federal and jurisdictional suicide prevention activities
  • Mechanisms for improved communication and information-sharing between all stakeholders in the suicide prevention sector
  • A stronger role for the Australian Government in setting and disseminating the policy agenda (through appropriate consultation)
  • Improved coordination, facilitation and funding of strategic, translational research that addresses the key evidence gaps in suicide prevention. Opportunities include:
    • Exploring the most appropriate strategies for those who are at immediate risk
    • Better understanding community risk and protective factors
    • Determining the most effective ways to build community and individual resilience
    • Exploring opportunities for measuring outcomes.

8. Areas for continued work

Continued work aimed at improving public awareness about mental health issues, encouraging help-seeking behaviours and reducing stigma is important. Community development in this area provides impetus for social change and the challenging of social norms.