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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2000 Jun;34(3):388-407.

Preventive interventions for youth suicide: a risk factor-based approach.

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Centre for Adolescent Health, Royal Children's Hospital, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.



This review draws on current knowledge of risk for youth suicide to categorize strategies for intervention. Its goal is to identify areas of 'research need' and to provide an evidence base to identify 'best buy' preventive interventions for youth suicide.


The design, development, implementation and evaluation of prevention strategies ranging from clinical interventions to population-based universal approaches are considered within five risk factor domains: individual, family, community, school and peer.


There is a paucity of evidence on the effects of interventions targeting depression and suicidal behaviour. Nevertheless, there are effective indicated, selective and universal interventions for important risk factors for depression and suicidal behaviour. Little evidence has emerged to support the efficacy of some traditional approaches to suicide prevention, such as school based suicide education programs and telephone hotlines.


Youth suicide prevention strategies in Australia have generally employed traditional approaches that focus on clinical interventions for self-harmers, restricting access to lethal means, providing services to high risk groups and enhancing general practitioner responses. Both program development and research evaluation of interventions for many important risk and protective factors for suicide have been neglected.

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