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 preventionSuicide prevention should be promoted as a whole-of-government and whole-of-community endeavour that stretches beyond the domain of mental health/illness.
2. EvaluationAll Australian Government-funded suicide prevention activities should be rigorously evaluated, and adequate support, access to expertise and resourcing to do this should be provided. Where possible, the findings from these evaluations should be made available in the public domain.
3. Improving outcome measurementA 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 and 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) 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 AnalysisA detailed independent economic assessment of the cost of suicide and attempted suicide in Australia is needed in order to determine the economic benefit of prevention and to help inform future investment decisions.
5. AdministrationConsideration 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. FundingFunding surety would assist projects with recruitment, expansion and sustainability. An open and transparent tendering process would ensure that innovative approaches to suicide prevention are supported alongside established programs.
7. Strengthening DoHA's roleOpportunities 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 improving 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)
- Improving 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
- Improving understandings of community risk and protective factors
- Determining the most effective ways to build community and individual resilience
- Exploring opportunities for measuring outcomes.