Abstract for: Modelling the dynamics of suicide prevention – the role, reach and impact of a mental health system response

Suicide is an ever-growing public health problem that extends well beyond the people who die by suicide. It has devastating effects on individuals, families and communities across Australia. Because of this, State governments in Australia are setting ambitious targets to reduce the rate of suicide-related deaths over the coming years. In this project we describe a multi-disciplinary, participatory modelling project in which a dynamic model was developed to model the impacts of various initiatives within the mental health system targeted at reducing the rate of suicide-related deaths in a state in Australia. The participatory process helped uncover the way in which different elements of the mental health system support those at different stages along a continuum of suicidal thoughts and behaviours. In addition to providing projections of the possible impact of various suicide prevention initiatives, the model shed light on several broader system insights, including the trade-offs of targeting different populations, the extent to which the mental health system is able to address this problem, and important implications of demand and supply of suicide prevention, treatment, and management services.