Ways of preventing and reducing suicide by young people – VET RTOs and Schools (Video)

Suicide prevention is everybody’s responsibility.

Thousands of VET graduates have had their qualifications recalled. http://bit.ly/1HYvi0L

The latest audit by the Victorian Registration and Qualification Authority (VRQA) follows an investigation last year which found about 6,000 students had studied sub-standard courses.

More than 3,500 qualifications were recalled.

This is what happens when outdated and discredited educational models are still being implemented, insufficient time is spent looking at the available evidence (theory and empirical), important stakeholders and professional groups are excluded, there is no thought about good governance, and there is a total reliance on business/corporate models and structure, instead of community-based, models and structure.

It’s one thing if it was a corporation but  VET is meant to be shaping young people’s lives.

We might ponder on what that really means at the human being level – not the business model level.

Educational institutions have an important role to play in reducing the incidence of suicide.

If you need crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or call Kids Helpline on
1800 55 1800, 24 hours a day.

For general support, talk to your GP or local health
professional.

Some key points from: Ways of preventing and reducing suicide by young people, First published by Ombudsman Western Australia on 9 April 2014,  http://bit.ly/1DMqgOM

Educational institutions have an important role to play in reducing the incidence of suicide

The research literature identifies that educational institutions have an important role to play in reducing the incidence of suicide by young people as education professionals are in a unique position to identify and prevent the suicide of young people.

Important indicators of mood such as academic performance, behaviour, interpersonal relationships and the ability to cope, are all subject to continual observation in the educational setting….

…The research literature further identifies that educational institutions are particularly important for children and young people from certain groups, including young people who have experienced child maltreatment, resulting in cumulative harm, and Aboriginal young people. Children and young people with a history of child maltreatment may have difficulties in learning and interacting in socially appropriate ways.

Early trauma reduces the capacity to regulate strong emotions, often resulting in conflict with students and teachers.

Among the 36 young people who died by suicide, the Office identified four distinct groups of young people…

o Mental health problems, which included having a diagnosed mental illness and/or self-harming behaviour;

o Suicidal ideation and behaviour, which included suicidal ideation, previous suicide attempts or communicated suicidal intent;

o Substance use, which included alcohol or other drug use;

o Experiencing child maltreatment, which included family and domestic violence, sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect; and

o Adverse family experiences, which included having a parent with a mental illness, having a parent with alleged problematic alcohol or other drug use, having a parent who had been imprisoned and having a family member, friend or person known to the young person who died by suicide.

Group 1 – 20 young people who all were recorded as having allegedly experienced one or more forms of child maltreatment, including family and domestic violence, sexual abuse, physical abuse or neglect. Most of the 20 young people in Group 1 were also recorded as having experienced mental health problems and/or suicidal ideation and behaviour. Records indicate that, as a group, the 20 young people in Group 1 had extensive contact with State government departments and authorities, schools and Registered Training Organisations.

All of the young people in Group 1 were known to the Department for Child Protection and Family Support. All had contact with WA Health, with eight young people having contact with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.9 Eighteen of the young people had contact with a government school and seven had contact with a registered training organisation. The 20 young people in Group 1 had significant contact with the State government departments and authorities associated with the justice system. The majority also had contact with the Department of Housing.

Group 2 – five young people who were recorded as having been diagnosed with one or more mental illnesses, as having a parent who had been diagnosed with a mental illness and/or demonstrated significant planning of their suicide. None of the five young people were recorded as having allegedly experienced child maltreatment. Records indicate that four out of the five young people in Group 2 had contact with WA Health and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.

Three of the five young people had contact with a government school and two had contact with a registered training organisation. Records indicate that none of the young people in Group 2 had contact with the Department for Child Protection and Family Support, Department of Corrective Services, Department of Housing, Department of the Attorney General or Western Australia Police.

Group 3 – six young people who were recorded as having experienced few factors associated with suicide. None of these six young people were recorded as having allegedly experienced any element of child maltreatment, a mental health problem or adverse family experiences. All six young people were recorded as being highly engaged in school and highly involved in sport.

Records indicate that the six young people in Group 3 had minimal contact with State government departments and authorities. Four young people in Group 3 had contact with one State government department, namely WA Health. One young person had contact with a government school and three had contact with registered training organisations. None of the young people in Group 3 had contact with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, Department for Child Protection and Family Support, Department of Corrective Services, Department of Housing, Department of the Attorney General or Western Australia Police. o

Group 4 – five young people who, like the young people in Group 3, were recorded as having experienced few factors associated with suicide, except for four young people who were recorded as having demonstrated suicidal ideation and behaviour and/or engaged in substance use. Although none of the five young people were recorded as having allegedly experienced any elements of child maltreatment, a mental health problem or adverse family experiences, the Office observed that all five young people were recorded as having demonstrated impulsive or risk taking behaviour.

Records indicate that the five young people in Group 4 all had contact with WA Health, plus government schools. Four young people had contact with the Department for Child Protection and Family Support and registered training organisations. As a group, the five young people in Group 4 had some contact with the State government departments and authorities associated with the justice system. Two young people had contact with the Department of Housing. None of the five young people in Group 4 had contact with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.

Strategic frameworks for preventing and reducing suicide by young people

The research literature recognises that, because there is no simple explanation and no single solution for suicide, suicide prevention ‘requires concerted action on many fronts and a strategic framework to integrate these efforts’.

This chapter provides an overview of the major strategic frameworks for suicide prevention that are in operation in Western Australia. These are the strategic frameworks that have been promoted at a national level by the Australian Government and at a state level by the Western Australian Government.

These strategies aim to provide an overarching framework for the suicide prevention activities that are occurring at all levels in the community, to integrate existing activities into the framework, to identify where gaps exist and to stimulate additional activities by public, private and not-for-profit organisations to fill these gaps. The Office also analysed the extent to which the existing strategic frameworks correspond to the patterns in the factors associated with suicide identified during the investigation…

The research literature refers to a model of interventions for mental health problems developed by Mrazek and Haggerty in 1994 entitled The spectrum of interventions for mental health problems and mental disorders (the Mrazek and Haggerty model).

This model continues to underpin current thinking about suicide prevention strategies. The Mrazek and Haggerty model divides interventions for mental health problems into three categories –

  1. Prevention,
  2. Treatment and
  3. Continuing Care

And further into eight domains associated with each of these categories (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Spectrum of interventions for mental health problems and mental disorders

intervention

More recent research recognises that ‘failures in complex systems tend to occur primarily at the points of handover of responsibilities’ and identifies the need to modify the Mrazek and Haggerty model to: …respond to the need for support and care in the gaps between the model’s segments.

Community-based safety nets are needed to bridge these gaps which focus on providing the support needed by people who are feeling suicidal and are in transition between stages of professional care and support.

Studies of suicide among Aboriginal young people have taken a slightly different approach, stating that preventing suicide by Aboriginal young people ‘should be the business of all agencies that deal with child and youth development and wellbeing.’

The complexity of the causes of suicide ‘requires a sustained, strategic and transparent program of investment in multiple service interventions, service coordination and ongoing research to build the evidence based on effective and practical ways to prevent the loss of life.’

Within each category of suicide prevention strategies, a range of State government departments and authorities, health professionals, private sector and non-government organisations are currently providing information, services and support to prevent or reduce the risk of young people taking their own life. As part of these efforts, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organisations are working with Aboriginal communities to prevent or reduce the risk of suicide among Aboriginal young people in particular.

Mental Health First Aid Australia

Developed in 2001 by Betty Kitchener AM and Professor Tony Jorm, Mental Health First Aid Australia is a national not-for-profit organisation focused on mental health training and research. MHFA Australia develops, evaluates and provides a variety of training programs and courses:

  • Evidence-based MHFA courses which teach mental health first aid strategies to members of the public.
  • Instructor Training Courses which train and accredit suitable individuals to deliver these MHFA courses to communities and workplaces across Australia.

 

Staying the course: A guide to working with students with mental illness: http://bit.ly/1OUkmBi 

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If you need crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or call Kids Helpline on

1800 55 1800, 24 hours a day.

For general support, talk to your GP or local health professional.

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