Grant awarded for new research into youth with suicidal thoughts
Published: 16 March, 2020
The Black Dog Institute has been awarded a grant by Suicide Prevention Australia for research into cognitive and behavioural response styles of young people with suicidal thoughts.
The fellowship grant is one of four awards funded through the Commonwealth’s Suicide Prevention Research Fund and is to develop evidence to support innovative interventions across the spectrum of suicide prevention.
Black Dog Institute’s Dr Jin Han, who will be running the study, says it’s important because suicide is the leading cause of death in young Australians aged between 15-24 years.
“Suicide rates in this age group have continued to rise over the decades. The upwards trend indicates a critical need for new approaches, or optimisation of existing ones, to prevent youth suicide. This Fellowship seeks to uncover how young persons’ typical ways of reacting to negative feelings like guilt, distress, irritability, shame, fear or nervousness, impact their suicidal thoughts and behaviour in daily life.”
“Receiving this Fellowship grant is critically important because it will provide insights into the mechanisms that drive suicidal behaviour in young people. We can then use this knowledge to develop novel ways of suicide interventions for them,” says Dr Han.
Dr Han aims to identify individual differences in cognitive and behavioural response styles to negative feelings, which may account for the difference in symptom changes and onset of suicidal attempts in youth.
Emerging evidence from some studies indicates a close relationship between negative feelings and suicidal thoughts and behaviour. Maladaptive responses to negative feelings (e.g. self-harm and increased alcohol use), were found to be associated with decreased fear of pain and increased capability for suicide, a possible key factor in the transition from suicidal thoughts to attempts. In contrast, exercising and playing with pets were associated with less severe suicidal thoughts.
“Understanding more about response styles to negative feelings from youth lived experience fills an important gap of promoting a person-centred suicide prevention approach in Australia, which may provide the needed breakthroughs to optimise the efficacy of current suicide prevention system,” explains Dr Han.
Federal Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, welcomed the announcement by Suicide Prevention Australia of the four post-doctoral fellowships.
“The four grant recipients all have a strong focus on evidence-based outcomes. Understanding how we can apply the research is a key to success. The grants will facilitate a closer alignment between new research, immediate applications and improvement in suicide prevention programs and community services,” said Minister Hunt.
Click here to read more about our research into suicide prevention.
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)