The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) is a solution that arose from Indigenous community members, leaders in mental health and suicide prevention, and the Australian Government as a response to the Indigenous suicide problem.
Suicide is one of the most common causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
ATSISPEP report to the Minister for Indigenous Affairs identified a potential set of success factors of Indigenous suicide prevention programs. Three levels of intervention in the success factors, which are:
- Universal interventions
It defines universal activity and aimed at the whole and ‘well’ population. Primordial prevention addresses the upstream risk factors for suicide such as alcohol and drug use, family dysfunction, and other challenges to wellbeing. Primary prevention may include community education to support help-seeking behaviour for those who suffer with problems that affect their mental health and wellbeing.
- Selective interventions are aimed at young people who are identified as being at higher risk of suicide
- Indicated interventions are aimed at individuals who have been identified as at risk of suicide, or who have attempted suicide
ANTISPEP included recommendations for government and other activity pertaining to Indigenous suicide prevention, as follows:
- All future Indigenous suicide prevention activity should utilise success factors and include a commitment to the evaluation. Suicide prevention activity should include community-specific and community-led upstream programs, and also use justice reinvestment principles.
- Governments should support the training, employment and retention of Indigenous community members/people to work in suicide prevention activity. All mental health service provider staff should be required to achieve Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in cultural competence and the delivery of trauma informed care.
- Preparatory work should commence immediately to develop suicide prevention activities specific to the needs of those who have suffered child sexual abuse. Indigenous people identifying as LGBTQI should be represented on all Australian Government and other Indigenous mental health and suicide prevention advisory forums
In addition to these general recommendations, ANTISPEP also concluded with recommendations on the implementation of the ATSI suicide prevention strategy.
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) is calling for a quick implementation of the recommendations from the report.
APS Fellow Professor Pat Dudgeon, a member of the ATSISPEP project, said, “All attempts to address suicide must also come from an understanding of the existing and ongoing trauma experienced by Aboriginal people and the institutional racism that affects the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal people. This isn’t just a health issue – it is a social issue, a justice issue and an economic issue.”
Support is available for those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts or if you know someone who is:
- 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service
- 1300 659 467
- 1800 55 1800
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