Using suicide surveillance to inform effective means restriction interventions

By Kairi Kõlves , Stuart Leske and Diego De Leo

Published 2 June 2023

Key findings:

  • Suicide surveillance can help to identify patterns, high-risk populations, suicide clustering, and common locations.
  • Suicide rates began to decline in 2012 after Lifeline phones and cameras were installed. Rates continued to drop close to zero after barriers were introduced in 2015.
  • The study shows how real-time surveillance can help to inform effective means restriction interventions that reduce suicide rates.

What’s the issue

Surveillance is a key part of suicide prevention. It helps to identify trends, at-risk groups, suicide clusters and common locations.

The authors used surveillance data to explore the impact of different suicide prevention activities around a known suicide location. Lifeline phones and surveillance cameras were installed in 2012, followed by physical barriers in 2015.

What was done?

The study used state suicide register data from 2001 to 2021. The authors examined deaths at the location and other nearby areas.

Trends in suicide deaths over time were analysed to identify when any changes occurred.

The time series was also divided into three-year time blocks to avoid small numbers and to compare differences before and after the interventions.

What was found?

When comparing three-year time blocks, installing phones, signs and cameras in 2012 did not correlate with a reduction in suicides. However, the analysis of changes over time identified 2012 as the point where the trend decreased significantly.

After barriers were installed in 2015, suicides in 2016-2018 continued to drop, declining to close to zero.

Some trends in nearby areas were increasing but were not statistically significant.

Why are findings important?

The results of this study add to the existing evidence, showing means restriction is an effective suicide prevention strategy.

The study shows how real-time suicide surveillance can help to inform effective means restriction interventions that reduce suicides.