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National Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring System

The Commission, together with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), has established Australia’s first national suicide and self-harm monitoring system

The suicide monitoring system aims to increase transparency and access to information so that Australians can have a more informed understanding of suicide and self-harm to improve the ways we respond to suicide, helping us work towards zero suicides.

National Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring System

Safety

Everyone needs to be mindful of the sensitive nature of the information in the suicide monitoring system, and to take care of their mental health and wellbeing when engaging with this information.

Responsible reporting

Reporting the information in the suicide monitoring system without reference to Mindframe guidelines or without applying media codes of practice for safe reporting has the potential to cause harm. The principles of the suicide monitoring system advocate the safe and responsible use of the <em?Mindframe guidelines when using, reporting and publishing statistics on suicide and self-harm.

Latest data releases

The suicide monitoring system has a planned schedule of major updates that include new data every quarter, and regular updates of existing data when they become available.

The latest quarterly update in Dec 2021 includes the most recent data available on ambulance attendances for suicide ideation, suicide attempts and self-harm behaviours, and a commissioned study on suicide patterns during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The Commission provides independent policy advice on ways to improve the suicide prevention system and we have published a contextual analysis about this data release and the Suicide Monitoring System on the Life in Mind Australia website.

Consultation with young people

The Commission and the AIHW partnered with Orygen to hear from young people about their needs for suicide information and their experience of the Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring System Website.

What we heard was that young people want to increase their knowledge of suicide to help themselves and their community and the website was a useful resource to do this.

We also heard the website’s accessibility, functionality and level of engagement could be enhanced for a young person’s audience, which the AIHW are currently working on.

The Commission and the AIHW would like to thank each participant for their insights and advice, and Orygen for the support provided to the consultation.

Suicide monitoring system background

The development of the suicide monitoring system began following the National Suicide Prevention Summit held in December 2018 where the Commission made several recommendations on key actions to prevent suicide deaths in Australia. One of those recommendations was to establish a national system for the collection, coordination, and timely delivery of regional and demographic information on the incidence of suicide and suicide behaviour, to enable focused and timely preventive actions to be implemented.

The suicide monitoring system was announced as part of the Australian Government’s Prioritising Mental Health Package in the 2019–20 Australian Government Budget (Department of Health 2019). The AIHW has received $5 million per year for 3 years (2019–20 to 2021–22) to develop and implement the monitoring system. In the 2021-22 Budget, the Government committed additional funding of $4.2 million each year from 2022-23 to 2024-25 to continue to deliver this system.

The suicide monitoring system improves the coherence, accessibility, quality and timeliness of national data and information on suicide, suicide attempts and self-harm. The suicide monitoring system plays a key role in better informed public conversations about suicide prevention. It brings together all existing and extensive new data from across states and territories on a website that is being regularly updated and improved.

About the suicide monitoring system

The suicide monitoring system website brings together, for the first time, data on suicide, intentional self-harm, and suicidal behaviours from a range of national data sources and surveys. The data is presented in an accessible way and includes interactive data visualisations and geospatial mapping to illustrate and explore the statistics, as well as explanatory text to assist with their interpretation and communicate the limitations of the data.

The suicide monitoring system website content will be regularly updated as new data become available, and further data sources will also be added as they become available from data development activities.

The suicide monitoring system also includes an Analyst Portal (the Portal) for the sharing of content from Commonwealth and jurisdictional data custodians and other approved users, such as Primary Health Networks, NGOs and researchers. The purpose of the Portal is to compliment data that is publicly available on the website by providing authorised users access to data that is presented in a way that has specific utility for those involved in planning and providing responses for suicide prevention. The information provided through the website and the Portal enables policy makers and service providers to identify emerging trends and priority populations to support timely policy decisions and localised planning of suicide prevention activities.

The Portal is managed by the AIHW and includes national morbidity, mortality, and ambulance data, with states and territories able to contribute other data, such as emergency department, suicide register or police data. The Portal is currently under development and the AIHW and Commission are working collaboratively with jurisdictions, Primary Health Networks, NGOs and researchers to determine:

  • What data can be made available in the Portal
  • How this data gets into the Portal
  • What analyses are needed and can be performed in the Portal
  • Who needs to access the Portal.

The Commission established a Portal Working Group to develop guidelines for making decisions about who can access the Portal, what data should be in the Portal and for what reason. The guidelines were delivered by the working group to the AIHW in December 2021. Contributing to the development of the Portal werethe members of the suicide monitoring system’s Expert Advisory Group and people with lived experience of suicide.

Principles

To ensure the suicide monitoring system continues to inform improvements in both community awareness and prevention of suicide and self-harm, the Commission led the development of a set of principles to guide the decisions about what data is included in the system and how it is accessed. The principles were co-developed with input from the Expert Advisory Group and people with lived experience of suicide. For more information see Principles for the system.

Evaluation

The Commission and the AIHW are committed to ensuring the suicide monitoring system is fit for purpose and is continually improving. As such, the University of Melbourne has been commissioned to undertake an evaluation of the suicide monitoring project and system.

The Interim Evaluation Report includes some preliminary findings, which are largely positive about the development and early performance of the suicide monitoring system. In particular, the way lived experience has been embedded into the design and development of the suicide monitoring system. The final evaluation report is due December 2021 with consideration of the report taking place in early 2022 in consultation with the EAG and the Lived Experience Working Group.

Lived Experience

People with a lived experience, including those who have attempted suicide, those bereaved by suicide or affected by suicide, have a valuable, unique, and legitimate role in suicide prevention.

The Commission has established a Lived Experience Working Group to support the suicide monitoring system. Members of this group play an important role in the development and presentation of the data on the website, the development of the Portal, and will continue to provide critical insights into how we can improve the suicide monitoring system to better prevent suicide in Australia.

Here are a couple of our Lived Experience working group members talking about their contributions to the development of the suicide monitoring system.

Expert Advisory Group members

The Commission has established an Expert Advisory Group for the suicide monitoring system to support the development, implementation, and application of the monitoring system by providing advice as required.

The membership of the Expert Advisory Group includes representation from suicide prevention experts, academics and researchers, service providers, and people with lived experience.

  • Ms Christine Morgan, Chair, CEO, National Mental Health Commission
  • Dr Jaelea Skehan, Member, Director Everymind
  • Mr Alan Woodward, Member, National Mental Health Commissioner
  • Dr Grant Sara, Member, NSW Ministry of Health
  • Ms Nieves Murray, Member, CEO, Suicide Prevention Australia
  • Ms Nicky Bath, Member, CEO, LGBTIQ+ Health Australia
  • Associate Professor Jo Robinson, Member, Head Suicide Prevention Research, Orygen
  • Ms Leilani Darwin, Member, Centre of Best Practice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention
  • Mr Mark Davis, Lived Experience representative
  • Dr Nerida Volker, Lived Experience representative

EAG meetings to date

The Expert Advisory Group has met quarterly between November 2019 and December 2021 and has committed to support this work through to July 2022.

https://www.aihw.gov.au/suicide-self-harm-monitoring