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Integrated suicide prevention works best

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A study has found youth-specific interventions conducted in clinical, educational and community settings can be effective in helping those at risk of suicide.

Integrated approaches show the most promise, in particular those that combined educational workshops about suicide prevention with case detection designed to identify young people at risk.

The global review of suicide prevention strategies from Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health in Melbourne found shortcomings as many studies tested interventions that had previously been designed for adults as opposed to young people specifically. There was also an absence of studies that included indigenous, same sex attracted and/or gender diverse young people and those who live in low to middle income countries.

"These findings suggest that important opportunities for youth suicide prevention are currently being missed and need to be addressed by researchers, research funders, and by policy makers, if we are to successfully address the rising rates of suicide among young people worldwide," the study's lead researcher, Dr Jo Robinson, said.

"At a time when we're seeing suicide rates around the world growing, this study shows us that we should feel hopeful that interventions specifically designed to reduce suicide risk in young people do work and can impact on suicide ideation and self-harm," Robinson said.

The comprehensive review examined 99 individual studies of which 52 were conducted in clinical settings, 31 in educational or workplace settings, and 15 in community settings, and found interventions delivered in these settings appeared to reduce self-harm and suicidal thinking in young people.

"In Australia, we've seen a lot of investment in suicide prevention, but It's very important that this investment is directed in a strategic way and is being invested in evidence-based interventions.

"That's why this study is important, it will guide not just clinical services and interventions and research, but policy makers as well to ensure that we're putting funds into evidence-based suicide prevention interventions that work."

Despite the encouraging findings of the study, Robinson said the research had identified some clear gaps in suicide prevention approaches.

The research was supported by the Future Global Generations Fund, William Buckland Foundation, National Health and Medical Research Council, Auckland Medical Research Foundation, a Victorian Health and Medical Research Fellowship and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.


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