AISRAP was established to advance research, both basic and applied, in suicide and suicide prevention. It does this by securing national competitive research funding to pursue projects of significance to the research community and by offering a consulting service to government and community agencies and organisations committed to suicide prevention. Its staff publish in high quality peer-reviewed journals, present at national and international conferences, and prepare reports on projects designed to meet clients’ needs. Management of the QSR provides a primary resource for research. Staff prepare reviews and regular updates of the research literature (Selected Readings) to inform policy makers and community groups. AISRAP also provides expertise in evaluation of research and community suicide prevention activities.
The Queensland Suicide Register (QSR)
Funding: Queensland Mental Health Commission since 2013, Queensland Health (1990-2013)
Key Investigators: Professor Diego De Leo, Dr Kairi Kõlves, Mr Boyd Potts
Timeframe: ongoing since 1990
QSR is one of the comprehensive databases of its kind in Australia and in the Asia Pacific region, and central to many of AISRAP’s research projects. The database includes information on all suicides of Queensland residents from 1990 to present, with data obtained from three sources: post-mortem forms, toxicology reports, and Form 1 (including psychological autopsy reports). Form 1s are completed by Queensland Police officers in the investigation of possible suicides, following interviews with those close to the deceased, and include information pertaining to psychosocial, behavioural, and demographic data. All suicide cases in the QSR are classified into one of the following categories: Beyond Reasonable Doubt, Probable, and Possible.
AISRAP currently maintains two versions of the QSR – a Final QSR database (QSR) for the years 1990-2013 (13,758 cases) and a preliminary database - interim Queensland Suicide Register (iQSR) with weekly updates since 2011. The iQSR is based on data from Queensland Police Service (QPS) ‘Form 1’ reports and has been cross-checked with the Office of the State Coroner (OSC).
The Queensland Suicide Register is the major source of data used in AISRAP’s projects and reports. Some examples of previously conducted research based on the QSR data include:
- Suicide in Indigenous populations
- Trends in suicide and suicide methods
- Suicide in the building industry
- Suicide from the Story Bridge
- Suicide and schizophrenia
- Suicide in the Queensland Rail
- Suicides and motor vehicle accidents
- Firearm suicides
- Suicide in opiate users
- Relationship issues and suicides
- Suicide risk in selected occupations (e.g. medical doctors, farmers etc)
- Suicides in migrants
A triennial report for 2011-2013 is currently under preparation.
The most recent report De Leo D, Sveticic J & Kumpula E-K (2013). Suicide in Queensland: Mortality Rates and Related Data 2008-2010. Longueville Media, Woollahra
National Centre of Excellence in Suicide Prevention (NCESP)
Funding: Commonwealth Department of Health, Australian Government
Key Investigators: Professor Diego De Leo, Dr Kairi Kõlves
Project co-ordinator: Ms Wendy Iverson
Timeframe: ongoing since 2008
The aims of the Centre are to provide advice around evidence-based best practices and evaluation in suicide prevention, to support Australian Commonwealth Departments, non-government agencies, academics and community groups in their respective initiatives in the field of suicide prevention.
The centre complements and adds value to the wide range of suicide prevention work being undertaken by the Department, other Commonwealth, State and Territory Government Departments, academics, clinicians and other service providers working in their field of suicide prevention across Australia. Best practice will be benchmarked against the highest international standards in suicide prevention, and might concern conception, planning, execution and evaluation of all undertaken activities. Scientific findings from the work of the Centre have been communicated in international refereed journals and other printed materials (e.g., volumes and reports), and also at national and international conferences. NCESP has involved a number of subprojects; the main subprojects are described here.
Biannual Literature Review – Suicide Research: Selected Readings
Key Investigators: Professor De Leo, Dr Victoria Ross (previously Dr Kairi Kõlves)
Timeframe: ongoing since 2008 (currently 14 volumes have been published)
AISRAP has committed to provide a biannual critical literature review outlining recent advances and promising developments in international research in suicide prevention. The main aim of these publications is to collate all newly released publications (research articles, editorials, letters, case reports) that explicitly refer to fatal and/or non-fatal suicidal behaviours and related issues. Particular attention is paid to new promising lines of suicide research that carry potential for practical implications in the Australian context.
Each volume has three distinctive parts – the Citation List is a collection of references of all retrieved publications over the preceding six months, Recommended Readings represents a selection of research articles of particular significance and their abstracts, while Key Articles is a compilation of publications with particular relevance for Australian suicide prevention initiatives. For the latter, written comments detailing methodological strengths and weaknesses and the practical implications are provided.
Suicide Trends in At-Risk Territories Study in the Western Pacific Region: The WHO/START Study
Funding: Commonwealth Department of Health, Australian Government and World Health Organization
Chief Investigators: Professor Diego De Leo, Dr Kairi Kõlves
Timeframe: ongoing since 2006
Evidence from the World Health Organization showed that in 2002, the rate of suicide in the Western Pacific Region was 19 per 100,000, which was more than 30% higher than the average world rate for the same year (14 per 100,000) (WHO, 2004). The countries of the Western Pacific Region have significant cultural differences and are at varying stages of social and economic development.
The Suicide Trends in At-Risk Territories study was inspired by AISRAP and initiated by the Western Pacific Regional Office of World Health Organization to develop a greater understanding of the trends of both fatal and non-fatal suicidal behaviour, and to provide an appropriate cross-cultural treatment intervention.
As a Collaborating Centre for World Health Organization, the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention provides technical support for the project, which has also been endorsed by the International Association for Suicide Prevention.
The WHO/START Study has four main components:
- the monitoring of suicide deaths and attempts, includingdeliberate self-harm;
- a randomized-controlled intervention of suicide attempters(the brief intervention project);
- the psychological autopsy cross-cultural study; and,
- the follow-up of medically serious suicide attempters.
Suicide Prevention in Tonga: Address by Professor Diego De Leo and Dr Allison Milner - December 2011
Amadéo S, Kõlves K, Malogne A, Rereao M, Favro P, Nguyen NL, Jehel L, De Leo D (2016). Non-fatal suicidal behaviours in French Polynesia: Results of the WHO/START study and its implications for prevention. Journal of Affective Disorders 189:351-356.
Amadéo S, Rereao M, Malogne A, Favro P, Nguyen NL, Jehel L, Milner A, Kõlves K, De Leo D (2015). Testing brief intervention and phone contact among subjects with suicidal behaviour: A randomized controlled trial in French Polynesia in the frames of the World Health Organization / Suicide Trends in At-Risk Territories study. Mental Illness 7:5818.
De Leo D, Milner A, Fleischmann A, et al. (2013). The WHO START study: Suicidal behaviours across different areas of the world. Crisis 34(3):156-163.
Milner A, Kõlves K, Kõlves KE, Gladman B, De Leo D (2013). Treatment priority given to presentations of suicide ideation and behaviours at an Australian Emergency Department. World Journal of Psychiatry 3(2): 34-40.
Bereavement of Suicide and Sudden Death
Funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARC DP140102567)
Chief Investigators: Dr Kairi Kõlves, Professor Diego De Leo
Losing someone to suicide can have devastating effects on the survivors left behind. The aims of the present study include the identification of the processes and impacts of bereavement on survivors in various age groups. It also aims to identify critical points during the bereavement and factors which exacerbate and moderate negative impacts. This has previously neglected in suicide research in Australia and its findings will add a multidimensional aspect to postvention not currently understood. It is expected that findings will help develop guidelines to ensure more effective detection and intervention for survivors, as well as enhancing social support and personal resilience.
Investigating the Coronial Determination of Suicide as a Category of Death
Funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARC DP150101402)
Managed by Queensland University of Technology
Chief Investigators: Professor Belinda Carpenter, Associate Professor Gordon Tait, Prof Diego De Leo, Professor Colin Tatz
Data for suicide statistics can only come from official findings of suicide by a coroner, however this is a finding they are often reluctant to reach. The purpose of this project is to investigate how statistical calculations of suicide are dependent upon its coronial determination. This research will not only result in more defensible national suicide data, it will also clarify the degree to which the recurrent ‘problem’ of suicide data may lie in the coronial construction of suicide itself. Expected benefits of the project include the development of a more viable ways of operationalising suicide, the clarification of the role of the coroners regarding suicide determination, and the more effective targeting of suicide prevention programs.
Gordon Tait, Belinda Carpenter, Diego De Leo & Colin Tatz (2015) Problems with the coronial determination of ‘suicide’, Mortality: Promoting the interdisciplinary study of death and dying, 20:3, 233-247, DOI: 10.1080/13576275.2015.1012489
Influences on Farmer Suicide in Queensland and New South Wales
Funding: Australian Research Council Linkage Project (ARC LP120100021)
Key Investigators: Griffith University – Professor Diego De Leo; Dr Kairi Kõlves; (previously Dr Allison Milner and Dr Samara McPhedran) University of Newcastle – Professor Brian Kelly, Professor Prasuna Reddy
Partners: University of Newcastle, Australasian Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, Hunter New England Local Health Network, Queensland Health, Queensland Office of the State Coroner, NSW Office of the State Coroner
There is increasing concern about the number of suicide deaths in Australian farmers. Recent evidence indicates that the suicide rate among Queensland’s agricultural workers (a group which includes farmers, farm managers, farm hands, and shearers) was over twice the rate of the general employed population. However, although there is a great deal of speculation about influences on farmer suicide, past research has not investigated the factors explaining the higher burden of suicide in Australian farmers.
The aims of this study are to:
- determine the prevalence of fatal suicidal behaviour within farming-related occupations in QLD and NSW;
- determine the risk and protective influences (as well as cultural and attitudinal factors regarding stigma, and help-seeking) related to fatal suicidal behaviour within farming-related occupations in QLD and NSW;
- determine the developmental process, including the sequence of events and risk factors associated with fatal suicidal behaviour in farming-related occupations;
- investigate attitudes towards suicide and help-seeking in farming communities.
Recommended Reading: Suicide in Farming Communities
Arnautovska U, McPhedran S, Kelly B, Reddy P, D De Leo (2016). Geographic variation in suicide rates in Australian farmers: Why is the problem more frequent in Queensland than in New South Wales? Death Studies Epub 18 Feb 2016 Doi:10.1080/0748 1187.2016.1153007
Arnautovska U, McPhedran S, De Leo D (2015). Differences in characteristics between suicide cases of farm managers compared to those of farm labourers in Queensland, Australia. Rural Remote Health 15(3):3250.
Arnautovska U, McPhedran S, De Leo D (2013). A regional approach to understanding farmer suicide rates in Queensland. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 49(4):593-599.
McPhedran S, De Leo D (2013). Miseries suffered, unvoiced, unknown? Communication of suicidal intent by men in ‘rural’ Queensland, Australia. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior 43(6):589-597.
McPhedran S, De Leo D (2013). Risk factors for suicide among rural Australian men: Are farmers more socially isolated? International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 33(11/12):762-772.
Kavalidou K, McPhedran S, De Leo D (2013). Farmers' contact with healthcare services prior to suicide: Evidence for the role of General Practitioners as an intervention point. Australian Journal of Primary Health, 21(1):102-105
Kairi Kõlves, Allison Milner, Kathy McKay & Diego De Leo (eds) (2012): Suicide in rural and remote areas of Australia. Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, Brisbane.