New funding supports suicide-prevention research by the Black Dog Institute
Published: 19 June, 2019
Black Dog Institute Research Fellow, Dr Mark Larsen, was one of four grant recipients to receive a collective $400,000 aimed at suicide prevention, intervention and protection research.
Recently awarded by Australia’s Minister for Health, The Hon Greg Hunt, the funding from Suicide Prevention Australia will support Dr Larsen’s research, which will use CCTV recordings from selected locations to determine whether warning signs or specific behaviours precede a crisis.
Working with colleagues in the UNSW School of Computer Science and Engineering and the Prince of Wales Hospital, the innovative research will also determine if such behaviours can be automatically detected, possibly allowing for an early warning system to detect people who may be in crisis.
“A key focus of our research is to identify suicidal clusters of behaviour in public areas to help prevent people from tragically taking their own lives,” said Dr Larsen.
“While some locations contain CCTV cameras that can trigger an emergency response – this can be too late. We don’t yet have the capability to identify when people are at risk of harming themselves.”
Courtesy of developments in the field of computer science, there now exists the possibility to automatically detect behaviours that are associated with suicide.
While this pilot study will aim to determine the feasibility of identifying behaviours that precede a suicide attempt, the findings will offer a vital contribution to suicide prevention research with implications that could benefit communities across the country.
“Previous research using CCTV cameras to retrospectively identify suicidal behaviour suggests there are behavioural indicators we can use to understand whether someone is at risk of self-harm,” said Dr Larsen.
“Our challenge is developing the technology to ascertain this in real-time, and trigger the appropriate emergency responses that will save lives.”
This much-needed research by the Black Dog Institute, UNSW’s School of Computer Science and Engineering, and the Prince of Wales Hospital will hope to contribute to existing suicide prevention initiatives aimed at addressing the rising suicide rates in Australia.
To read more about our research into suicide prevention, click here.
If you or someone you know is in crisis please call one of the following national helplines:
LIFELINE COUNSELLING SERVICE - 13 11 14
SUICIDE CALL BACK SERVICE 1300 659 467 (cost of a local call)