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National Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring System

The National Suicide Prevention Office, 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 Mindframe guidelines when using, reporting and publishing statistics on suicide and self-harm. 

Latest data releases

The latest update in July 2022 includes the most recent data available on self-harm hospitalisations and ambulance attendances for suicide ideation, suicide attempts and self-harm behaviours, and findings from a new MADIP model of suicide and income and unemployment .

The release highlights that females, young Australians, and especially girls and young females, are at increased risk of suicide and are engaging in higher rates of suicidal behaviour.

The release also illustrates the social factors that significantly increase the risk of suicide for females that where not previously known, for example, disability and living alone.

This release further highlights the impact of social determinants on suicide, with lower and reduced incomes, and long-term unemployment being associated with an increased risk of suicide.

The AIHW data provides the evidence to inform how the National Suicide Prevention Office can develop and implement a whole-of-governments approach to suicide prevention by enabling the identification of upstream social factors that can increase risk of suicide as well as the identification of groups of people that are disproportionately impacted by suicide.

The National Suicide Prevention Office will utilise this data to highlight opportunities for interventions for particular groups of people, and at specific touch points between people and government services, such as disability and employment support, and education.

The release also includes the publication of the Final Evaluation report and the PHN consultation report. The Evaluation report found the system is the ‘most comprehensive public resource of Australian data and information on both suicide and self-harm’, and notes that collaboration with stakeholders and people with lived experience in the development of the system has been extensive.

Consultation with young people

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

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 national Suicide Prevention Office 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 National Suicide Prevention Office 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 were the 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 National Suicide Prevention Office 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.

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 National Suicide Prevention Office lead 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 National Suicide Prevention Office manages 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.

  • Dr Michael Gardner, Chair, Head, National Suicide Prevention Office
  • 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 July 2022.

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

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Acknowledgement of Country

The Commission acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands throughout Australia.
We pay our respects to their clans, and to the elders, past present and emerging, and acknowledge their continuing connection to land, sea and community.

Diversity

The Commission is committed to embracing diversity and eliminating all forms of discrimination in the provision of health services. The Commission welcomes all people irrespective of ethnicity, lifestyle choice, faith, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lived Experience

We acknowledge the individual and collective contributions of those with a lived and living experience of mental ill-health and suicide, and those who love, have loved and care for them. Each person’s journey is unique and a valued contribution to Australia’s commitment to mental health suicide prevention systems reform.