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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, with the public website going live on 29 September 2020.

This website and the system project aims to increase transparency and access to information so that Australians can have a more informed understanding of suicide, intentional self-harm and suicide risk. Everyone needs to be mindful of the sensitivity of this information, and to take care of their mental health and wellbeing when engaging with this information.

Released on 29 September 2020, the National Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring System improves the coherence, accessibility, quality and timeliness of national data and information on suicide, suicide attempts and self-harm. This project plays a key national role in better informing public conversations about suicide prevention. It brings together all existing and extensive new data from across states and territories on a publically available website that is being regularly updated and improved.

Data is continually collected from sources such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics and coronial offices, existing national morbidity (hospitalisation) and mortality data and national survey data. New national data from state and territory ambulance services is also included, attained specifically through this project, from the National Ambulance Surveillance System (NASS) - the world-first public health monitoring system that will provide timely and comprehensive data on ambulance attendances for suicide attempts, suicidal ideation, self-injury, and mental health.

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. Members of the lived experience working group for this project played an important role in the development and presentation of the public website, and will continue to provide critical insights into how we can better prevent suicide deaths and attempts over the lifetime of this project. By using the data to identify trends, emerging areas of concern and priority groups, this new system will inform better policy and service delivery decisions, and effective evidence-based interventions and support.

More information about the project and the data can be found on the project’s website.

Project background

The development of this project began following the National Suicide Prevention Summit held in December 2018 where the Commission made a number of recommendations on the 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 National Suicide and Self-harm 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 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has received $5 million per year for 3 years (2019–20 to 2021–22) to develop and implement the monitoring system. The AIHW will continue to work on data development activities to identify and address gaps and enhance the data in order to improve the breadth, coverage and quality of data entering the system.

Critical to achieving the objectives of The National Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring System website is advocating the use of the Mindframe guidelines when reporting on statistics on the monitoring of suicide and self-harm. 

Visit 'The National Suicide and Self Harm monitoring system' website

Information for media can be found in the following media release 

Expert Advisory Group members

The Commission has established an Expert Advisory Group for the National Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring System project 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, Special Advisor, National Suicide Prevention Taskforce
  • Mr Alan Woodward, Member, Co-Chair of Advisory Group to the National Suicide Prevention Taskforce
  • Dr Grant Sara, Member, Chair of the Mental Health Information Strategy Standing Committee
  • Ms Nieves Murray, Member, CEO, Suicide Prevention Australia
  • Professor Pat Dudgeon, Member, School of Indigenous Studies, University of Western Australia
  • Associate Professor Jo Robinson, Member, Head Suicide Prevention Research, Orygen
  • Mr Mark Davis, Lived Experience representative
  • Dr Nerida Volker, Lived Experience representative

Progress to date

The Expert Advisory Group has met quarterly (November 2019, March 2020, June 2020 and September 2020), and has committed to continue supporting this work in 2021.

The public interface of the monitoring system was launched on 29 September 2020 and the secure portal is expected to be available to governments and service providers by mid-2021.