Knowledge and Resource Hub
13 December 2018

Focusing on people at ‘high risk’ of suicide has failed as a suicide prevention strategy

This article discusses suicide prevention. Many of the current prevention programs focus on raising of awareness of, and preventing  suicide only at the point just prior to its occurrence. The author argues that as the rate of suicide deaths in Australia is the second highest in ten years despite decades of government investment in awareness programs, clearly more is needed to prevent suicide. She suggests that Australia must stop focusing on the suicide itself and put more effort into helping people find ways to cope with their life challenges. Government should invest in helping people reduce their emotional reactivity, rather than waiting to intervene until the last minute before someone dies. Efforts need to be directed to earlier intervention to address the overwhelming stressors and improve everyday coping strategies that leave a person vulnerable to suicide. The long-term mental health strategy needs to focus on preventing distress through improved health and well-being, improved coping, and providing timely and adequate access to evidence-based treatments for all those who seek assistance.