Research to understand young people at greatest risk of suicide

16/12/2019 | 2 mins

The Young Lives Matter Foundation at The University of Western Australia has received $100,000 in community grants to support research to help understand and prevent youth suicide.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15 to 29 year-olds worldwide. The task of understanding who is most vulnerable and when they are most at risk requires intensive research.

Suicide prevention is a national priority, and the Federal Government has committed itself to a zero target.

UWA Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Andrew Page said that understanding suicide triggers was often difficult because they were complex and varied between individuals, and that research to understand the issues at play was critical.

“We are delighted to receive these grants because they will help researchers in the fields of education, psychological science and psychiatry offer their expertise and work together as an interdisciplinary team to provide new insights into suicide to support our young people,” Professor Page said.

“Key areas of research will include exploring loneliness in adolescents generally as a developmental risk for vulnerability and looking into suicidal behaviours which will feed into work to develop a vulnerability index.

“The index will be used to predict adolescent suicide and will also examine the risk factors of adolescent self-harm.

“In addition, to create the vulnerability index we will examine the role of ‘positive disintegration’ which looks at how people respond to anxiety and psychological tension.”

UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Dawn Freshwater said developing a greater evidence-base through research was vital to be able to address a significant issue affecting youth.

“The challenge for those in the front line treatment of individuals is being able to intervene early and deliver an effective treatment path,” Professor Freshwater said.

“That’s why this research is so important - it will include a diverse range of experts and harness their capacity to engage with stakeholders to result in real change as we seek to reduce the rates of suicide in Australia.”

UWA Professor Sean Hood (Associate Dean, UWA Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences) Professor Stephen Houghton (Director Centre for Child & Adolescent Related Disorders) and Professor Andrew Page will lead the research teams.

For more information on Young Lives Matter Foundation-UWA visit the Young Lives Matter website.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.


Media references

Meredith Edwards(Young Lives Matter Foundation Media and Communications Adviser) 0408 009 791

Jess Reid (UWA Media Adviser) 08 6488 6876

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