National Suicide Prevention Trial

National Suicide Prevention Trial

When the National Suicide Prevention Trial was announced in 2016, the Greater Darwin region was chosen as one of two Indigenous-only sites (along with the Kimberley in WA) from a total of 12 regions. Approximately half of the suicide-related deaths in the Northern Territory occur within the Darwin region. Young people, males, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are particularly overrepresented in those figures.

National Suicide Prevention Trial for Aboriginal people in the Greater Darwin region

The focus of the national trial was to adopt a systems-based approach, in which a suite of evidence-based strategies work together to reduce suicide attempts and deaths.

In partnership with communities and key stakeholders, we coordinated early consultations, in which the community quickly expressed its desire to develop its own distinct culturally informed version of the systems approach, responding to local needs and opportunities.

Through community questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups, we engaged the community’s knowledge of suicide prevention, the services currently available, and the areas of need. As a result, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory group (The Telling Group) was established, which was made up of local people with lived experience of suicide, Elders, young people, people employed within suicide prevention, mental health, and youth services. 

The Telling Group analysed and visualised the key themes that emerged, resulting in the Strengthening Our Spirits model, which depicts the four elements of fire, land, air and water, and how self-harm and suicide creates an imbalance in this perfect system which has provided Indigenous people with everything needed to survive and thrive for more than 60,000 years.

Since then, a range of activities have been commissioned through the Strengthening Our Spirits model, including the following:

  • The Top End School of Flexible Learning delivered early intervention and awareness programs to students and their families. The program supported young marginalised Aboriginal young people aged 12 – 18 years old disengaged from social participation and mainstream supports, including education and mental health services.
  • Balunu Foundation delivered camps for boys and girls targeting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from the Darwin region.
  • Top End Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs Services (TEMH AOD) engaged a local Aboriginal consultant and trainer (IvolveGen) to develop a cultural-specific mental health and alcohol and other drugs (AOD) training, cultural consultation, and cultural supervision package. The aim is to support clinicians to understand and fit within an Aboriginal framework of Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) when delivering health care to First Nations peoples.
  • AMSANT, the Peak Body for Aboriginal Medical Services, in the NT developed and delivered culturally responsive trauma informed care workshops to health and community professionals, namely child protection, youth justice and police frontline staff located in the Greater Darwin region. A trauma and healing working group was established, and a series of engagements were held to ensure that the training package was responsive to the local community need and cultural context.
  • Youturn Limited / United Synergies delivered youme whichway program with community consultation to the people of Darwin. The project originally developed in QLD, was commissioned by other PHNs in WA and SA and is now being delivered in Darwin to selected individuals from the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander community. The program deliverers a model through a train-the-trainer concept and is a full day program providing information, sharing knowledge and provides the opportunity for participants to explore suicide and self-harm and its impacts on individuals, families, and communities.
  • Danila Dilba, an Aboriginal community-controlled organisation providing culturally appropriate, comprehensive primary health care and community services to the community in the Greater Darwin Region, delivered two activities including a youth social emotional wellbeing program to support the trial in Darwin through engagement, insights, collaborations, transition planning and referral pathways.
  • YMCA delivered a young fathers’ programs and youth camps focused on resilience building through cultural activities which promote the youth’s connection to land and culture with Larrakia nation providing mentorship and cultural connection to men aged 12-25.

To learn more about the National Suicide Prevention Trial, please contact us.

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