Psychology Melbourne Blog

News and Insights from the Science of the Mind

Online psychology research project on suicide self-help

Edited by Jill Wright,

Psychology Melbourne is continually impressed by the quality of the work done by the Black Dog Institute. This month, for instance, it is promoting Exercise Your Mood month, aimed at convincing Australians that regular exercise is good not only for the body, but also for the mind. You might want to have a look at the video and the comments from their sporting ambassadors.

Their latest initiative is a research trial of an online self-help psychology program - the Healthy Thinking Study - aimed at people experiencing suicidal thoughts. The project, which is recuiting adults between 18 and 64 for a six-week program, is based on a program developed at VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and uses cognitive behavioural therapy techniques.

One of the Amsterdam researchers, Bregje van Spijker, has completed postdoctoral research at the Black Dog Institute.

What it points to is a growing preference among consumers to use the internet to seek help. 

The institute executive director, Professor Helen Christensen, told ABC Radio this week (transcript available here) that about 60 per cent of people who make a suicide attempt do not have contact with a medical health professional, and their responses indicate that they prefer an anonymous service that provides immediate help.

Lifeline has also been active in online suicide prevention work, prompted by the fact that suicide is the leading cause of death in Australia for men under 44 and women under 34, with Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicating that more people die from suicide than road deaths. That's a sobering statistic, particularly when you compare the amount of resources ploughed into lowering the road toll, with what is being thrown at preventing suicide.

Another organisation, Suicide Prevention Australia, linked the recent federal election campaign with its drive to halve  the number of suicides and suicide attempts in Australia within 10 years. 

At that site, the National Coalition for Suicide Prevention is spearheading a move to focus attention on the problem, promoting a joint effort by the mental health sector, business and government to commit to a common agenda.

You'll find those resources, among many others, on Psychology Melbourne's new Links page.

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About the editor, Jill Wright

Jill Wright (MAPS, AAFT, AICD) is the Director and Principal Psychologist at Psychology Melbourne. Jill was twice elected General Director of the Australian Psychological Society and established the Study Group Network. Find out more about Jill Wright.