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Crisis. 2008;29(4):180-90.

Research priorities in suicide prevention in Australia. A comparison of current research efforts and stakeholder-identified priorities.

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ORYGEN Research Centre, University of Melbourne, Australia.


This project sought to inform priority setting in Australian suicide prevention research, by empirically examining existing priorities and by seeking stakeholders' views on where future priorities might lie. Existing priorities were examined via reviews of Australian literature published and grants funded during the life of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy (1999-2006). Stakeholders' views of future priorities were elicited via a questionnaire administered to 11 groups comprising 231 individuals with an interest in suicide prevention. The study identified 263 journal articles and 36 grants. The journal articles most commonly reported on studies of descriptive epidemiology, while the grants tended to fund intervention studies. Both gave roughly equal weight to completed and attempted suicide, and gave little emphasis to studies of suicide methods. Young people were the most frequently-researched target group, with people with mental health problems and people who had attempted suicide or deliberately self-harmed also receiving attention. Stakeholders indicated that emphasis should be given to intervention studies, and that completed suicide and attempted suicide are both important. In terms of suicide method, they felt the focus should be on poisoning by drugs and hanging. They had mixed views about the target groups that should be afforded priority, although young people and people with mental health problems were frequently ranked highly. This paper presents a picture of the current focus with regard to suicide prevention research, identifying some areas where there are clear gaps and others where relatively greater efforts have been made. By combining this information with stakeholders' views of where future priorities should lie, the paper provides some guidance as to the shape a future suicide prevention research agenda for Australia should take. A strategic approach to suicide prevention research will help fill internationally-identified gaps in knowledge about what works and what doesn't work in suicide prevention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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