During the course of a the project a range of material was published by ATSISPEP and an extensive list of suicide prevention resources was collated for the use of both researchers in the field and the wider community.
Solutions that work - What the evidence and our people tell us
The Australian Government formally released the ATSISPEP final report ‘Solutions that work - What the evidence and our people tell us’ at a launch at Parliament House on the 10th of November 2016. The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, Minister for Health and Aged Care, Sussan Ley, and Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt were in attendance.
Download the report
Updated 11 Nov 2016
Report of the Critical Response Pilot Project
Download the report
Updated 3 Oct 2017
Real time suicide data
Download the report
Updated 7 Feb 2017
Suicide Prevention in Indigenous Communities – Literature Review
Suicide Prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities
Suicide Prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities: Learnings from a meta-evaluation of community-led Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention programmes
A series of fact sheets have been prepared on a number of issues relating to suicide prevention. They are based on extensive research from our literature review and roundtable consultations undertaken during 2014/2015. Addressing the relationship between racism and inequality in suicide.
Fact Sheet № 1
What we know about suicide prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Fact Sheet № 2
The valuing of upstream approaches across the lifecourse.
Fact Sheet № 3
Suicide prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.
Fact Sheet № 4
The social determinants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide.
Fact Sheet № 5
Examining the risk factors for suicidal behaviour of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
Fact Sheet № 6
Addressing the relationship between racism and inequality in suicide.
The following suicide prevention resources are listed alphabetically within each category. The headings include: general resources; screening tools and resources; postvention; bereavement and loss; suicide in schools; community training; telephone helplines; self-help apps; social media, digital technology and online resources; wellbeing resources, and; workforce training resources.
- Counselling Online for anyone with a drug or alcohol problem
- call 1800 888 236 or chat online
- headspace for 12–25 year olds
- call 1800 650 890 or chat online
- Kids Helpline for 5–25 year olds
- call 1800 55 1800 or chat online
- Lifeline for anyone having a personal crisis
- call 13 11 14 or chat online
- ReachOut.com for 14–25 year olds
- website and online forum
These resources include suicide prevention awareness-raising resources and selected mental health services, as well as suicide fact sheets and toolkits. Also included is suicide prevention information about knowledge of risk factors and mental health building strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.
beyondblue is an independent, not-for-profit organisation working to increase awareness of depression, anxiety and related disorders throughout Australia. beyondblue works with health services, schools, workplaces, universities, media and community organisations, as well as people living with these disorders, to bring together their expertise.
Brief Wellbeing Screener
This brochure was developed by the Menzies School of Health Research and the Remote Alcohol and Other Drugs Workforce Program and can be used with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in self-reporting various worries in relation to SEWB issues. Domains include: feelings of sadness and anxiety, alcohol and other drug use, energy levels, strange thoughts, hearing voices and seeing things, violent or strange behaviours, and suicide and self-harm. While this tool is not designed for use in diagnosing mental illnesses, it can facilitate the help-seeking process if a person is worried about any of the SEWB measures, and show where a person is at risk.
Here and now Aboriginal assessment tool (HANAA)
The Community, Culture and Mental Health Unit of the School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Western Australia released the Here and now Aboriginal assessment tool in 2013, which is culturally appropriate and designed to gauge social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) and mental health issues in Indigenous people. The format design is a semi-structured interview looking into 10 domains exploring SEWB problems. The domains are: physical health, sleep, mood, suicide risk and self-harm, substance use, memory, unusual experiences, functioning, life stressors, and resilience. The semi-structured interviews focus specifically on issues in the ‘here and now’. While this tool is a screening instrument, it is not designed to diagnose mental health problems. However, the tool and accompanying guidelines can be used by health practitioners and Indigenous clients to assess whether a referral to more specialised services needs to be made. To obtain a copy of the resource please contact Winthrop Professor Aleksandar Janca or Assistant Professor Zaza Lyons directly at the University of Western Australia.
headspace Psychosocial Assessment Interview
The headspace Psychosocial Assessment Interview is an assessment tool that is designed to assist practitioners with engaging young people and building rapport while assessing the full range of mental health disorders and psychosocial needs. The screening tool is considered essential because of the high prevalence of mental health and/or substance use problems in young people. However, there are few assessment tools for this purpose. To meet this need, the Centre of Excellence, with the contribution of two expert consensus panels, adapted the American HEEADSSS assessment interview to suit the Australian context and extending the domains covered to allow the detection of more serious mental disorders.
Service providers (eg GPs, mental health professionals, social workers, youth workers, or substance use workers) with experience in conducting client assessments can use the tool to identify young people in need of mental health care and their needs. The tool consists of a set of 'screening' and 'probing' questions. Practitioners who do not feel confident to conduct the full interview with a young person should choose only to complete the screening questions they feel competent to address. If these screening questions suggest the need, refer on to another experienced practitioner for a full assessment.
Headspace centres currently use the tool with young people. A preliminary evaluation found that the tool was both acceptable and useful to clinicians who are using it in their practice to assess young people's mental health problems and psychosocial functioning. However the evaluation does not consider the cultural appropriateness of the tool for Aboriginal young people (Parker et al., 2010).
Indigenous Risk Impact Screen (IRIS)
In 2006 this screening instrument accompanied a brief intervention to address the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Queensland. In 2009 this program was funded and rolled out nationally. The tool consists of a health questionnaire and designed for use with Indigenous communities to assess alcohol and drug, and related mental health issues. Having now been evaluated and validated as culturally appropriate, it is now recommended a screening tool for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health service users. This tool can be accessed at the link:
The IRISE C is a validated racial identity and related self-esteem screening tool for WA Aboriginal urban, rural and regional children aged 7-12 years (Kickett-Tucker et al., 2015). The IRISE_C (Racial Identity and Self-Esteem of children)is an evidenced based inventory developed to explore and establish the link between self-esteem and racial identity and Aboriginal mental health and social wellbeing. It is widely recognised in national and international literature that health and wellbeing concepts in existing wellbeing frameworks do not align very well with Indigenous worldviews and holistic concepts of health and wellbeing as encompassing the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing as well as physical health (Dudgeon et al., 2014; Kickett-Tucker et al., 2015). The IRISE_C instrument is developed with Aboriginal involvement in all stages of research specifically to take into account the Australian Aboriginal experience.
The confirmatory factor analysis has shown that the 4 subscales: 1) knowledge of identity, 2) salience of identity, 3) knowledge of culture, and 4) Salience of culture, represent ‘good’ and ‘acceptable’, fitting models. Items for each sub- scale have been developed through a multi-stage, iterative consultative process with the local community, to ensure the concepts being assessed by each scale have meaning to the families in the communities in which the scale has been tested. It is important to note that the IRISE_C provides a snap-shot of identity and self-esteem at one time point. It is a static measure of identity and self-esteem however according to the current literature, identity is dynamic and self-esteem is influenced by significant others.
Is a self-appraisal brochure by beyondblue which suggests a number of support strategies and types of healing available if someone is feeling broken or very sad, and outlines many types of support. It suggests that to feel strong again can take time, but small steps can lead to big changes. With the right help, most people can feel stronger inside.
Lifeline fact sheets and toolkits
All of Lifeline's fact sheets and toolkits have been produced using both internal and external information resources, and have been reviewed by Lifeline's Mental Health Professionals’ Reference Group. Suicide Prevention Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a self-help toolkit designed to assist Indigenous Australians living with a mental illness. It covers aspects of culture and suicide, risk factors and warning signs and outlines a guide to a 6 step prevention plan for individuals and families.
Principles of Practice in Mental Health Assessment with Aboriginal Australians
This chapter by (Adams, Drew & Walker 2014) is an excellent resource for mental health practitioners. In this chapter, concepts and history of assessment and testing in the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing and mental health are discussed. Importantly, recently revised diagnostic guidelines and the National Practice Standards for the Mental Health Workforce 20131 and their appropriateness for meeting the distinctive needs of Aboriginal people are reviewed. Various assessment tools and measures that have been validated or proved appropriate for use with particular Aboriginal populations, (i.e. youth, pregnant women or women through the perinatal period and older people, are described (see Appendix 1)). The Chapter includes a discussion of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) including guidelines for implementing the Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI); The Aboriginal Indigenous Psychology Association (AIPA) framework for assessment and ‘The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ (RANZCP) Indigenous Mental Health Group also identify some of the issues, gaps in knowledge and solutions to be considered across the physical, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual dimensions. The authors conclude that practitioners need to be critically reflective in their role in assessment, and position themselves to play an important transformative role in conducting assessment. This extends to acknowledging and enacting culturally responsive principles, procedures and practices to ensure that Aboriginal people have access to effective, culturally secure mental health care. This chapter has been peer-reviewed, endorsed by the National Advisory Committee for the Working Together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander: Principles and Practice, and The Department of Health and Ageing and The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The SANE Media Centre works with the media, mental health and suicide prevention workers to promote accurate and sensitive reporting of suicide and mental illness. Media Centre staff provide information, practical day-to-day guidance and support for responsible reporting, as well as referrals to experts who can provide comment and personal stories. SANE's website has a range of downloadable Factsheets and podcasts on suicide prevention and bereavement, as well as a range of mental health problems and related issues. The relevance and effectiveness of these resources has not been evaluated.
Screening Tools and Resources
Screening tools are used to assess suicide risk and mental health issues. Often these tools guide practitioners through the referral process where clinical follow up is required. The following list includes examples of culturally appropriate screening tools and resources for use with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who may be experiencing levels of risk.
Strong Souls: SEWB assessment tool
Strong Souls was developed with the input for young Indigenous people in the NT. They provided feedback on the cultural and face validity of the questions which informed the final version of Strong Souls, screening tool which consists of 34 items for problems related to depression, anxiety, suicide risk and levels of resilience.
The Strong Souls screening tool demonstrated good initial discriminative power and sound construct validity, reliability and cultural appropriateness as a tool for screening for SEWB among Indigenous young people in the NT (Thomas et al., 2010). Factor structure was consistent with the epidemiological literature, identifying constructs of anxiety, resilience, depression and suicide risk. While these align with observations in mainstream populations, importantly different relationships between distinct factors, and differences in symptomatology were identified in this population. In particular the study highlighted two key findings were: feelings of sadness and low mood were linked with anxiety and not depression; and the expression of anger was verified as a unique symptom of depression for Indigenous people. See Menzies website to download the tool.
The WASC-Y is a validated assessment tool for Indigenous young people 13-17 years, and the WASC-A is a validated assessment tool for adults aged 18 years and over. The tool is used to identify risk of anxiety, depression and suicidal behaviour whilst factoring in cultural resilience for both population groups.
Words for Feelings Map
The Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women's Council have developed a culturally sensitive guide developed to help Aboriginal children and young people talk about mental health. The guide, called the Words for Feelings Map, depicts characters experiencing a range of adverse feelings and links English and Aboriginal words to express them. The Words for Feelings Map has been created in two languages, Ngaanyatjarra and Pitjantjatjara, the Pitantjatjara version is included here. This guide is intended to encourage children and young people to talk about their feelings and seek help when they need to. A more comprehensive word list is available at:
Postvention refers to the period of time following a suicide. These resources are focussed on assisting with a suicide death within a family, community or organisation. The following list includes mainstream services and cultural adaptations specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
StandBy Response Service
National Standby Response Service offers counselling, education and advice. This is a 24-hour community-based suicide postvention program which aims to reduce potential adverse health outcomes and assist in addressing further suicidal behaviour. It was developed by United Synergies Ltd in Tewantin, Queensland, and now operates in partnership with a number of agencies within local communities across Australia. United Synergies has also developed the StandBy for LIFE training program which provides community training in areas of suicide prevention, postvention, traumatic loss and grief.
The way back: a resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples after a suicide attempt
The way back resources are for people who have attempted suicide and their close family and friends. It was developed by beyondblue with the Hunter Institute of Mental Health. The evidence based resources include two components: Finding your way back: for people who have attempted suicide; Guiding their way back: for people who are supporting someone after a suicide attempt. An Indigenous Review Group was established to develop a culturally sensitive resource specifically for Indigenous people who have attempted suicide or lost someone through suicide. Their family members and friends, also played an important role in the development of this resource, and a final report on its developed was prepared (Hunter Institute of Mental Health 2014). In May 2014, content for the Finding our way back resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was finalised. It consists of a 20 page A5 booklet and includes the following sections:
- Snapshot: Information and support after a suicide attempt
- About suicide attempts in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
- Getting support
- I have attempted suicide. What do I need to know?
- A family member or friend has attempted suicide
What do I need to know?
The voices of Indigenous peoples who had lived experience of suicide attempts participated in the consultation and were also used throughout the resource. An Indigenous graphic artist developed the template for the resources and the Review Group provided feedback which was reflected in the final layout, graphic design, production and dissemination of the Finding resource by beyondblue.
“When someone takes their own life… what next?”
This postvention resource contains information on dealing with grief and loss. It's been written by Aboriginal people who have lost someone to suicide. It provides a range of strategies that helped people to cope with things through their loss. It also provides information for all the things that need to be done including the police, the coroner's office, finance, funeral arrangements. It has practical steps regarding how to talk to children and provide self-care. This booklet was developed by the Western Australian Mental Health Commission with input from people bereaved by suicide.
YouMe – WhichWay factsheet
This factsheet provides information about the YouMe – WhichWay suicide awareness and postvention training package, which is a cultural adaptation of the StandBy Response Service designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. These workshops target Indigenous communities and also non-Indigenous service providers, caregivers and volunteers who are involved in supporting Indigenous communities. The workshops are in two forms: one for Indigenous communities and the other for non- Indigenous service providers. The training covers topics such as stigma and myths about suicide, the cultural meanings around suicide, identifying community strengths, resiliency and engagement models, and self-care plans and strategies.
Bereavement and Loss Resources
Very few of the resources are designed to support Indigenous people during a period of bereavement and loss. Several of the resources listed here have been developed by Indigenous health practitioners and counsellors in extensive consultations with Indigenous groups.
After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools
This toolkit developed by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, 2011 is a practical resource for schools facing real-time crises. It includes general guidelines for action, dos and don’ts, templates and sample materials, and covers topics such as ‘crisis response’, ‘helping students cope’, ‘working with the community’, ‘memorialisation’, ‘social media’, ‘suicide contagion’ and ‘bringing in outside help’. This resource may also be useful for Australian schools responding to a possible cluster.
ARBOR – bereavement counselling and peer support
Anglicare WA provides the Active Response Bereavement Outreach Program (ARBOR) and part of this includes an Indigenous specific component titled “Grieving Aboriginal Way”. This includes a postvention fact sheet and brochure.
Lifeline Self-help Tool kit for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people coping with sorrow, loss and grief
A self-help resource to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people trying to cope with sorrow, loss and grief. Lifeline's Coping with sorrow, loss and grief tool kit provides information about:
- Understanding what grief is;
- Developing some strategies to help cope with
- Sorrow, loss and grief;
- Understanding what friends and family can do;
- Where to go for help.
Information / Loss-and-Grief
One Life Suicide Prevention website
One Life's key message is that suicide is preventable, that there is hope, and that help is available. Their website is a repository of important suicide prevention information and resources. It includes information about workplace support, training, where and how to seek help, information specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, young people, and includes information on grief and loss and a resources section.
Suicide in Schools: Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families
Headspace resources for schools
Headspace have developed a range of resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families Suicide in schools: Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander familiesDownload the Suicide in schools: Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families PDF.
Suicide contagion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young peopleDownload the Suicide contagion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people PDF.
Self-care for school staff working with Aboriginal and Torres
Headspace youth mental health resources
These resources are available for professionals who work with young people, and any interested parties. There is a section of resources for young people, family and health professionals.http://headspace.org.au/resource-library/ http://headspace.org.au/what-works (research and information summaries and evidence maps).
Koori Kids Wellbeing Pamphlet
In conjunction with the South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation and the KidsMatter program this information pamphlet details the Koori Kids Wellbeing Program. This is a school-based program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the Shoalhaven area of NSW aged 6 to 12 years old. This adaptation of the Kids Matter program covers topics including: Indigenous cultural identity, reconciliation, social and emotional development, communication skills, school engagement, and parent and carer support.
KidsMatter Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander resources
KidsMatter provide a wealth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander resources on their website across four sub-sites: KidsMatter Primary, KidsMatter Early Childhood, KidsMatter Families and KidsMatter Health & Community. These sites include an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander resource portal, which provides access to a searchable database with information relating to children's social and emotional wellbeing particularly in schools and early childhood settings. there is access to Indigenous specific support animations and an audio-visual resource, and KidsMatter Ways providing knowledge about making important mental health and wellbeing messages to everyone and bring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of being, knowing and doing to KidsMatter. There is also a link to programs and school stories relating to Indigenous Australians, which includes:
- a handbook for school staff
- professional learning videos to supplement
- kidsMaatter learning materials. The resources can be accessed from:
Strait Islander young people in remote areas
Download the Self-care for school staff working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in remote areas PDF.Remembering a young person: Memorials and important events in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities Download the Remembering a young person: Memorials and important events in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities PDF.
Grief: How Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people might respond to suicide
Download the Grief: How Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people might respond to suicide PDF.
Suicide postvention guidelines for schools
This document was developed jointly by the Department of Education and Children's Services, Catholic Education South Australia, and the Association of Independent Schools of South Australia to assist schools to respond to completed, attempted or suspected suicide within their student community. It includes a response framework and a number of sample communication formats (such as for letters to parents, notifying students). It may be a useful resource to support provision of ongoing and accurate information. This set of postvention guidelines is available online: A framework to assist staff in supporting their school communities in responding to suspected, attempted or completed suicide, 2010.
Community Training Resources
A number of resources have been developed specifically to support training and as part of a training package for gatekeeper and natural helper training courses.
Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)
ASIST is a mainstream 2-day interactive workshop in suicide first aid. Participants learn to recognise when someone may be at risk of suicide and respond in ways that help increase their immediate safety and link them to further help. ASIST aims to enhance a caregiver's abilities to help a person at risk avoid suicide. Examples of adaptations of ASIST developed by Indigenous health workers include Suicide Story.
Guidelines for Aboriginal Mental Health First Aids Training in Communication
Guidelines: Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid Training and Research Program. Cultural Considerations & Communication Techniques: Guidelines for Providing Mental Health First Aid to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Person. Melbourne: Mental Health First Aid Australia and beyondblue; 2008.
QAIHC Suicide Prevention Community Training Resource Kit
QAIHC have funded suicide prevention and facilitator training for Social and Emotional Wellbeing Workers from across Queensland. This is a beneficial and an important prevention measure. Participant feedback regarding the training and support delivered prior to the commencement of the forums indicated this support measure to be valuable.
The resources provided to each participating site to guide and assist forum delivery were also seen as valuable and helpful. There is value in a statewide resource kit being adapted to support future similar local suicide prevention initiatives. There was also collective reference as to the benefit associated with the development of a state-wide forum evaluation tool, as opposed to each site developing their own feedback collection form to enable consistency in information and feedback collected, and a more comprehensive project evaluation.
safeTALK: Suicide Alertness for Everyone
safeTALK is a half-day presentation to increase suicide alertness. This program alerts community members to signs that a person may be considering suicide. It acknowledges that while most people at risk of suicide signal their distress and invite help, these intervention opportunities are often overlooked. Participants learn to recognise when someone may have thoughts of suicide and to respond in ways that link them with further suicide intervention help. Suicide alert helpers contribute to a suicide safer community.
Suicide Story – Training Tool
Suicide Story is an Indigenous community suicide awareness training program designed to work specifically with communities in the Central Desert. It incorporates the use of a DVD made up of short fi>ms that feature the voices of Indigenous people, combined with animation, art work and music. The DVD focuses on nine issues relevant to suicide, and accompanies a full 3-day training program. The aim of Suicide Story is to provide an Indigenous specific training resource to contribute to an increased level of understanding about suicide and the skills necessary to intervene when someone is at risk.
Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention Training for Indigenous community workers’
Wesley Mission is working with communities to develop Suicide Prevention Networks, known as Life Networks. These networks are designed to assist development of localised suicide prevention. Life force is about to launch a community training model that has been adapted for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The program was trialled in three sites Halls Creek, Alice Springs and Torres Strait Islander using a reflective learning model. See Case study 11 review.
headspace helps young people 12-25 who are going through hard times. They can help you with general health, mental health and counselling, education and employment, alcohol and other drug issues. There are 6 headspace centres located across WA. You can also access online chat and telephone support via eheadspace.
iBobbly is a mobile application focused on supporting clients experiencing suicidal ideation. There is extensive evidence that confirms that despite increased funding and implementation of new prevention programs, very few Indigenous people seek help before acting on suicidal thoughts. This pilot study undertaken in the Kimberley using a randomised control trial methodology is the first to evaluate the effectiveness of a self-help app to support young Indigenous people in addressing suicidal thoughts. The initial findings from participants in the pilot confirm that there is a notable reduction in suicidal thoughts after six weeks. Pilot testing has been extended to evaluating the effectiveness of a suicide prevention app using a much more extensive randomized controlled trial across several states in Australia (Shand et al., 2013).
iBobbly is a trial of the world's first suicide prevention app designed especially for use by Indigenous people on mobile phones or tablet devices. iBobbly (is a name derived from a Kimberley greeting), the app delivers evident-based psychological therapies proven to reduce suicidal thoughts in a culturally relevant way. It draws heavily on Indigenous metaphors, images and stories drawn from local Aboriginal artists and performers. It overcomes the two known major barriers to help seeking – perceived stigma and geographical isolation. Once the app is downloaded people don't need to remain connected on the internet.
iBobbly is an indicated prevention trial investigating the efficacy of an app-based self-help intervention designed to reduce suicidal thoughts in young (16-30 years) Indigenous Australians. Individuals with suicidal ideation will be recruited from the community and provided with a Black Dog developed self-help app which delivers evidence-based automated treatment. To examine the effectiveness of this intervention, a RCT design will be used to compare the intervention with an attention-matched control app. Participants will be assessed immediately after completing the intervention, as well as at 6, 12 and 24 months post- intervention to gauge the maintenance of intervention effects. (adapted from the website)
Kids helpline is a free, private and confidential telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25 years. Their phone number is 1800 55 1800.
Kids Helpline also includes a number of tools and resources for kids 0-12; teens, parents and carers and health professionals.
Lifeline is a national charitable organisation that offers a 24/7 suicide prevention and crisis support helpline for Australians experiencing a personal crisis. Every minute someone across Australia someone calls Lifeline on 13 11 14 to speak about a range of issues, including: suicidal thoughts or attempts; personal crisis; anxiety; depression; loneliness; abuse and trauma; stresses from work, family and society, and; self-help information for family and friends. The website link is:
Suicide Call Back Service
A free nationwide telephone support service staffed by qualified people. Expert counsellors call you, at a time that suits you, and provide support through up to six 50 minute counselling sessions.Phone: 1300 659 467.
- Phone: 1300 659 467
Smart technology will provide opportunities to strengthen the mental health service system to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, but at present the use of innovative technology is limited. Examples of new clinical tools under development with a specific Indigenous emphasis include:
The e-mental health portal
Opportunities exist to promote coordinated care for Indigenous people through greater use of information in electronic health records. Stakeholders interviewed during the Review saw potential for technology to enable connections to be maintained with family when Indigenous people need to travel from a remote community to metropolitan or regional areas for acute mental health treatment.
Technology also has potential as a tool to enable family input into processes for care planning and discharge planning. It is important that any overall strategy continues to support the development of a range of culturally appropriate electronic tools to improve access to care, and to support clinicians’ work in culturally appropriate ways with clients.
R U Appy: e-Social and Emotional Wellbeing
R U Appy is a mobile application focused on supporting clients to strengthen their Social and Emotional Wellbeing. It has been strongly endorsed by local Aboriginal Advisory groups, the Ngayundi Health Council and the North Coast Aboriginal community and health professional participants Learning Circles.
R U Appy: e-Social and Emotional Wellbeing also provides a training program in the use of iPads, Aboriginal-specific apps and online therapy programs for better social and emotional wellbeing. R U Appy is a 2 day training program designed to assists anyone who wants to work more smartly using Aboriginal-specific apps and other online programs. It includes monthly 2 hour ‘booster supervision sessions’ over a period of 6 months. These enable health professionals to confidently build R U Appy into their day-to-day practice
Social Media, Digital Technology and Online Resources
Buluru Yealamucka Healing Spirit
Is a film produced in 2008 for the Yarrabah community in Queensland which utilises storytelling and was developed in conjunction with the Building Bridges Program. Its aims are to ‘increase understanding of the meaningfulness and dimensions of suicide and self-harming behaviours, the situations and warning signs that specifically indicate risk and the recovery experience’ (McKay, Kolves, Klieve & De Leo 2009, p. 31). This film is available nationally to communities with access to HITnet kiosks, and was evaluated as part of the Building Bridges Program.
‘Got a lot going on?’
Audio-visual resource Developed by headspace as part of the Yarn Safe campaign this video encourages young Indigenous people to talk about wide range of issues they face such as racism, stress, drugs and isolation. The aims for the resource are to promote positive mental health by highlighting issues and stressing the importance of ‘talking it out’.
HITnet Community Hubs
This initiative began in 2010 by HITnet Innovations and includes the national roll out of interactive community kiosks providing a rich resource of multimedia health messages in urban, regional and remote Indigenous communities. Utilising a mix of local content and existing health and social videos the kiosks cover a range of topics, including mental health. HITnet also provides access to downloadable content and apps, interactive surveys, and community based productions, and provides access to and from health workers.
In 2014, HITnet had 48 Community Hubs in operation, with almost 40 000 purposeful uses over the year, or 800 uses at each hub. Around 60 to 65% of users identified as a teenager or child with a relatively even spread between male and females. The evaluation report is due for release in late 2015. More information, and access to hub content, is available at the website.
Kids Helpline also includes a number of tools and resources for kids 0-12; teens, parents and carers and health professionals.
It's OK to Talk about It – DVD
This suicide awareness raising DVD is an initiative of the Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation in the ACT and was produced for Indigenous peoples, and family and friends to promote discussion about suicide. The video includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members talking about suicide, and in some cases sharing their personal experiences of suicide for the first time. The video also includes information about who to speak to for support.
This resource is available from Gugan Gulwan and is a valuable tool for raising awareness and discussion around suicide prevention. There is a warning on the video for Indigenous people that it may contain images of deceased people.
‘Life Giving Music and Dance’ DVD
This DVD, produced by Northern Territory Medicare Local, aims to raise awareness of suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and outlines the ways in which contemporary and traditional music and dance can help build and maintain good mental health and wellbeing. The DVD is recorded in Djambarrpunyu (Yolgnu) language with English subtitles. It contains stories from community health workers, Aboriginal mental health workers, musicians and young people detailing how music has a positive influence in their lives and has helped develop strong cultural connections, and promote personal resilience. Currently 'Life Giving Music and Dance' DVD, by Northern Territory Medicare Local is running a survey to evaluate this resource.
‘Lighting the Dark’ DVD
Produced by the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) the suicide prevention DVD is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and outlines the personal coping mechanisms used by a range of Indigenous people (including current and former Gold Coast Titans players). It deals with issues such as depression, attempts of suicide, and other mental health issues and how these problems were met. Community consultations indicated a number of uses for this resource, and already this DVD is being used by other suicide prevention initiatives and social and emotional wellbeing programs.
Proppa Deadly is a project encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to take action against depression and anxiety through the telling of their own stories across the First Nations community radio sector. Brisbane Indigenous Media Association (BIMA) is one of sixteen participating radio stations, from metropolitan, regional and remote parts of the country, that will produce and broadcast personal stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women sharing their experience and the action each undertook to combat depression and/or anxiety.
PSY [Preventing Suicide in Youth] Facebook Group
This social media group has approximately, 20,000 members from both Australia and New Zealand (gated community), and is governed strictly by ‘duty of care’ and ethical guidelines and policies for dealing with crisis management and response situations. A difficult and challenging medium for provision of such support, this PSY Facebook Group is also balanced by a positive, resilience-based approach to increasing help- seeking behaviour in youth and young adults, providing mentoring and education for members via well-trained and supervised volunteers.
SANE Online Forums
The SANE Teleweb project funded by the Australian Government came online in mid-2014, to provide mutual support via online forums for carers as well as adult consumers, for people affected by any mental health condition, and concerned about any related issue—anywhere in Australia, 24/7.
The SANE Online Forums aim to ensure a rich and empathetic resource for people concerned about their mental health or that of a person they care for—promoting guided self-care, mutual support and referral to local support services as needed. In addition to utilising a sophisticated technology platform, will use an innovative distributed service model, in partnership with local consumer and carer support organisations all around Australia. The SANE website seeks to be embedded in the websites of local mental health support organisations. It aims to an ‘unparalleled level of support using peer-to-peer mutual support’ through SANE's syndicated service model, to provide a safe and effective environment for promoting recovery.
Solid Kids Solid Schools II
In 2014 the revamped Solid Kids Solid Schools II website was re-launched with more current information about the project. Based on feedback parents, schools and kids seven Solid Kids infomercials were produced around bullying and the future of kids in the region. These were aired on all rural and mainstream TV channels over a period of six months. An evaluation of the poster series, infomercials, Facebook and the revamped website was completed with parents/carers within the Yamaji region. The infomercials were well received and the recall rate was exceptional due to using local identifiable talent. As a health promotion media they had the highest ranking recall rate. Parents preferred way to receive information was through Facebook and TV with the least significant impact being from posters and booklets. Face to face discussion was still the preferred way for communication around relationship issues.
‘Working for Spirit, Mind and Soul’ DVD
Produced by Northern Medicare Local this video documents local initiatives being run in remote communities across NT to provide opportunities for work for local Indigenous peoples as a tool for engagement and positive mental health and wellbeing. An online evaluation survey is being conducted.
Yarn Safe Website
The following description is an abridged excerpt from the headspace website (2014):
Yarn Safe Is an example of a culturally adapted website headspace worked with a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people from across Australia and the Indigenous-specific advertising agency, Gilimbaa, to develop this campaign. The campaign's aims are to increase the awareness of headspace as a place for Indigenous young people to seek information, help and support. Common themes emerged from the workshop, including:
- The lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth and the issues they are facing are many and varied, complicated and serious.
- Mental health issues are having dramatic and devastating effects on communities across the country, from cities to remote areas.
- There is shame around asking for help.
- There is stigma around the language used in mental health.
Key themes emerged around critical areas related to health and wellbeing:
- stress and pressure
- alcohol and other drugs
Young Proud and Strong
The Young, Strong and Proud project works with young people in discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Queensland with the aim of developing a series of communication resources aimed at alcohol use, tobacco use, and inhalant use reduction. Examples of posters developed during our community workshops at Mornington Island and Napranum in Queensland, videos are also available.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Resources
The resources listed in this section covers training and practice guidelines for students, practitioners and stakeholders with an interest in working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to enhance positive social and emotional wellbeing.
Working Together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice
The second edition of the Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice book (Dudgeon, Milroy and Walker 2014) is a comprehensive resource initially developed as part of the COAG initiative. It is a key resource for increasing the knowledge, understandings and skills of Indigenous and other mental health professionals and service providers in providing more effective, and culturally appropriate and competent assessment, referral and treatment, including traditional healing.
A comprehensive evaluation regarding the quality, readability and usefulness of the ‘Working together’ book and a post-test with workshop participants confirmed positive changes in their understanding and practice as a consequence of using the resource (Walker 2011b). The first edition book encompasses the Framework's 9 guiding principles, has been widely disseminated (more than 50,000 hard copies and a similar number of online copies downloaded), and is a core text for many courses and required reading for all psychology and social work registrations. The second edition was identified as a most visited book in the Indigenous health and mental health section on Australian Policy Online in 2014, highlighting the high demand for this type of resource. The cost of distribution has severely limited its wide distribution with few organisations or conference organisations being able to cover the costs. This has seen a reduction in the acquisition of hard copies but an increase in the number of e-copies being accessed. This has significantly reduced hard copy distribution although e-books and downloads continue to be significant.
The book can be accessed or ordered from this website:
The following resources can be used by health professionals in their training or work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The following resource list includes a wide range of different formats, including reports, manuals, apps, flipcharts, guidelines, flyers and factsheets.
Aboriginal Youth Suicide in Central Australia: Developing a consistent data system and referral pathway
This comprehensive research report includes detailed information around suicide for Indigenous young people in Central Australia, and was developed and produced in consultation and discussion with local Indigenous groups working with young Indigenous people in the region. Included in the report is a section on an Aboriginal Youth Suicide Referral Pathway (begins page 29). This Indigenous young person specific pathway is explained in a graph and is accompanied by more detailed guidelines. This report provides detailed information to assist mental health workers working with young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The report can be accessed at:
AIMhi Stay Strong IPad app
Developed by the Menzies School of Health Research and Queensland University of Technology, this culturally appropriate interactive IPad app assists mental health practitioners with Indigenous clients to build a stay strong strategy. The app will help the client to identify their strengths, family members and friends who help keep them strong, as well as negative life factors, develop a behaviour goal, and assist in building a manageable step-by-step plan to help them achieve their goals. This resource was evaluated in 2015. For more information including download follow the link:
AIMhi Yarning resources
There are many evaluated resources in this series that are applicable for Aboriginal mental health workers in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities. Notably the Yarning about mental health manual, and the AIMhi mental health brain story – Yarning about mental health, include guides to working with Indigenous clients experiencing mental illness. They contain information, resources and advice to help health professionals to build relationships and provide culturally appropriate services to their clients. Also the AIMhi ‘What keeps me strong?’ flipchart helps identify protective factors for Indigenous clients. These resources can be located and downloaded from:
Australian Psychological Society – Suicide Prevention Professional Development Training Manual
This suicide prevention training resource is targeted for Allied Health Professionals providing mental health services in rural and remote communities, and provides different learning modules. Module one provides a background into suicide and suicidal behaviour including a case study. Module two goes into detailed considerations when working with specific at- risk groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples including a case study. Section three and four cover the referral process and self-care strategies for workers. This resource includes case studies for workers with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and concludes with a resources section.
Cultural competence in working with suicidality and interpersonal trauma CD Rom
This resource is produced by the Education Centre Against Violence in NSW and is designed for use by frontline workers in a number of fields to increase cultural competency for those working in areas related to suicide risk assessment. This CD-Rom introduces the concept of an ‘intersectional cultural approach’ which takes into account the full range of dimensions encompassing human diversity, and provides a suicide risk assessment framework that takes this into account. This resource is available to purchase at:
Glossary of Healing Terms factsheet
This factsheet was developed by the Healing Foundation and designed for use by all people who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It provides definitions for many healing terms in relation to SEWB, and also describes situations that Indigenous people may need to heal from. This resource is appropriate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as well as non-Indigenous people who work in health, and particularly social and emotional wellbeing. This resource aims to provide an understanding of Indigenous culture in order for workers to engage more effectively and sensitively with Indigenous people.
Mental Health and Wellbeing: Supporting and promoting Aboriginal mental health
This is a supplementary booklet to the Start Stronger Live Longer: Resource manual guide for Aboriginal health workers, and was produced by the Kulunga Research Network (KRN) at the Telethon Kids Institute. This targeted mental health booklet covers a range of topics around what mental health is and mental health first aid guidelines, anxiety, depression, and the assessment of suicide risk, and a resources section.
National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – Second edition
The second edition of this resource for the health workforce in working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was undertaken by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) in partnership with The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. This guide is designed for use by all health professionals delivering primary care to Indigenous people, providing an accessible user-friendly guide to best practice in preventive health care. There are sections on all aspects of preventive health for Indigenous Australians including a section of mental health covering prevention of depression and prevention of suicide.
One21seventy mental health flyer
One21seventy is an organisation that aims to increase the life expectancy for Indigenous and provides a mental health audit tool that is designed for services to improve the quality of care provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Working in partnership with over 200 community-controlled Aboriginal medical services, government health services, and general practices across Australia they provide information that can be tailored local solutions to better care outcomes for Indigenous people. This flyer provides information about the organisation and its services including the mental health audit tool and systems assessment tool, and can be accessed at:
Stay Strong Plan – Mental Health Resilience
This is a pictorial resource is designed for health care workers to use with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander to make a self-care plan. It may be useful to support those at risk, as well as the broader population.
Working with the suicidal person: Clinical guidelines for emergency departments and mental health services manual
This manual is designed to assist frontline workers in emergency departments and mental health services and assessment teams in Victoria. However, community-based organisations may also find them to be helpful. While recognising that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach does not work for everyone, this guide aims provide general principles to guide suicide risk assessment and management processes. There is a section of this resource that highlights the needs of complex groups including Indigenous peoples. This resource is available in a suite of downloads available at:
Other Related Projects/ReportsLinks are provided here to a small range of public reports about suicide prevention amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Related organisations and support in suicide prevention
Considerable research has been undertaken on the subject of suicide, and suicide prevention is a high priority for the community and the government.
Suicide is a personal and social tragedy and often difficult to speak about. It is essential that communities and individuals have access to supportive information and good research.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project is being undertaken by the University of Western Australia’s School of Indigenous Studies in collaboration with the Telethon Kids Institute and The Healing Foundation.
The Telethon Kids Institute provides expertise in research and evaluation activities and is leading Phases 1 and 2 of the project: conducting systematic reviews of Suicide Prevention programs and services; analysis of literature and data; mapping the prevalence of suicides and self-harm; and developing a culturally appropriate Evaluation Framework.
The Healing Foundation is providing in-kind and financial support for the project, hosting the national thematic roundtables in Canberra and supporting the program of community consultations.
Key organisations working in the area of Suicide Prevention and, in particular, the incidence of suicide and self-harm amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, are detailed below:
Links to a range of important research material and public reports on the rates and trends in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide and self-harm, are listed below: