New resources to support response to suicide risk amongst autistic and LGBTIQA+ communities

Posted 24th January 2022 in Sector update

A multidisciplinary team of researchers from La Trobe University have recently launched a new website to teach people how to identify and respond when they notice someone may be thinking about suicide.

The Suicide Response Project is a new evidence-based online resource developed in collaboration with autistic and LGBTIQA+ communities, and includes information for the general community as well as specifically for these two priority groups.

The website steps the user through a series of 12 short animated videos and accompanying written resources about recognising and interpreting suicide warning signs, the need to respond and how to do so. It also highlights information about autistic and LGBTIQA+ groups, who face particular challenges and have higher rates of suicidal behaviours than the general population.

Autistic people can differ in how they communicate, which can lead to important signs they are struggling with their mental health being missed or misunderstood by those around them. People who identify as LGBTIQA+ face issues of discrimination and social isolation which can have detrimental impacts on their mental health and ability to seek help.

“If family, friends and health professionals could better understand these issues, many tragedies within both these communities could be avoided,” Dr Darren Hedley, Senior Research Fellow at La Trobe University’s Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre said.

The website resources are underpinned by a psychological theory, known as the Bystander Intervention Model, that promotes help seeking behaviour through five steps:

  1. Notice a situation
  2. Interpret it as important/urgent
  3. Assume personal responsibility to help
  4. Feel confident and competent to help
  5. Consciously decide to help.

The research team has published research demonstrating that resources based on this model increase people’s ability to assess suicide risk and intervene compared to other publicly available resources.

"Research shows that, of the thousands of people who die by suicide each year in Australia, up to 90 per cent communicate warning signs to their friends and family," said Dr Karien Hill, Clinical Psychologist, who completed her PhD studies as part of the Suicide Response Project.

“If we can better equip the community to identify risks and have more confidence to intervene, we can potentially prevent many of these tragedies occurring and support people to get the help that they need.”

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