Preliminary Evaluation of Lived Experience of Suicide Training: Short-, Medium- and Longer-Term Impacts of Our Voices in Action Training

By Jacinta Hawgood, Mandy Gibson, Martina McGrath, Jo Riley, Katherine Mok

Published 15 September 2021


Those with lived experience of suicide have a critical role in suicide prevention through the design, delivery and evaluation of programs and raising awareness. However, there were no evaluated training models to support this population in undertaking their important roles safely and effectively.

Research and findings

The Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) at Griffith University was commissioned by Roses in the Ocean to undertake a formal evaluation of Our voice in action (OVIA) training. This is a 2-day capacity building program for people with a lived experience of suicide to allow them to meaningfully participate in a range of suicide prevention activities.

Over a two year period, 89 training participants completed an evaluation survey before and immediately following training, as well as at three and 12 months post-training. The survey included scales to assess key outcome areas of the training:

1. Suicide literacy – knowledge of warning signs, contributing factors and safe language when discussing suicide

  • Significant improvements in knowledge observed following training and at all follow-up points, but gains in safe language knowledge were not maintained at 3- and 12-month follow up.

2. Self-efficacy - confidence in carrying out lived experience tasks and empowerment

  • Confidence gains immediately following and at 12 month follow-up, which may have been influenced by having performed suicide prevention work in the sector following training.
  • Empowerment increased immediately after training, but was not maintained over time.

3. Attitude - to lived experience suicide prevention

  • Participants’ positive attitudes improved but this was not significant, which may be due to participants having existing positive attitudes to the value of lived experience work.

4. Psychological distress – to ensure training is safe for participants

  • A decrease in psychological distress in participants throughout the training and follow-up periods, indicating the training had positive impacts on participants.


This study provides evidence for the effectiveness of a training program to equip lived experience workers to participate meaningfully and safely in the suicide prevention sector, which is important for preparing a potentially vulnerable workforce to work with vulnerable service users. The survey results indicate that it is able to meet the desired learning outcomes, however there are opportunities to reinforce some aspects of training, particularly safe language, e.g. through ongoing development action plans, mentoring or top up training.