Lifeline Australia has been trialling and evaluating evidence-based suicide aftercare program, ‘Eclipse’, which offers a non-clinical, community-based support group for people with a history of attempted suicide.
Eclipse is an eight-week program that teaches specific skills to reduce suicidality, as well as promotes resilience and help-seeking behaviours. The groups are led by two facilitators, one of whom is a peer, and focuses on short-term goals to help survivors feel more connected - a key component in reducing suicide risk.
Lifeline has commissioned Professor Myfanwy Maple from The University of New England to design and conduct an evaluation of the pilot face-to-face and online program.
There is an emerging evidence base for Eclipse’s effectiveness. Eclipse is an adaptation of the Survivors of Suicide Attempts (SOSA) program developed by Didi Hirsh. An evaluation of SOSA in the United States found that participants experienced significant reductions in suicidal desire and intent, and significant increases in hopefulness and resilience.
In Australia, Professor Maple’s evaluation is currently underway. The primary outcome is suicidal ideation, and other measures including psychological distress, resilience, support identification and help seeking. The researchers will follow participants up to six months following their completion of the program to determine if benefits are sustained. In addition, qualitative data will be collected and analysed. Preliminary outcomes appear to be positive.
Ensuring survivors of a suicide attempt have access to a range of support options, regardless of when the attempt occurred or whether help was sought from emergency services, is a national priority.
Peer-led, non-clinical support groups like Eclipse are important additions to a universal aftercare system, and support individuals living with suicidality.
Eclipse is currently being offered at Lifeline Mid Coast, Macarthur, Harbour to Hawksbury, New England, Hunter and WA with hopes that in the future the findings from the trial will inform the development of more ongoing and equitable access to aftercare nationwide.