Regional suicide study gains national attention - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Accessibility links

Regional suicide study gains national attention

8 Aug 2019

A USC-led research project to improve access to help for people at risk of taking their own lives has made an impact at a national conference into suicide prevention.

The project team received a first-place award for a poster presentation titled, “Researchers as ranchers on horseback herding cats”, about the challenges and potential solutions involved with researching the complex issue of suicide in regional areas.

USC Lecturer in Social Work Dr Kate Jonathan is lead researcher of the joint study with the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service to map available suicide prevention services and resources in the Fraser Coast.
The study is also determining links between professionals and organisations to aid timely and appropriate referrals and follow-up treatments.

Dr Jonathan said the recent National Suicide Prevention Conference in Melbourne was an opportunity to share insights from their study with health practitioners from across Australia and to highlight the value of prioritising active participation in research.

“Promoting better engagement and appreciation of research by clinicians is needed before we can hope to invest in smarter solutions that will have true community impact,” Dr Jonathan said.

“Suicide is a harrowing national phenomenon and a nightmare for most rural and regional communities,” she said.

“While specific topics are more comfortable to research, suicide is not one of them and we found this, and the workloads of practitioners, are among the key reasons it is challenging to recruit research participants from the health sector.

“Starting this project, we felt like ‘ranchers on horseback chasing cats’ as we initiated one-on-one interviews and focus groups sessions with agencies involved in suicide prevention, including mental health providers and front-line health services.”
Dr Jonathan said that the experience and knowledge of suicide and its prevention from these agencies was essential to their research.

“As researchers we discovered we needed to go the extra mile to gather concrete data to gain a clear picture of the extent of this complex problem, the existing gaps in services, and to make suicide prevention help simpler and more easily accessible.”

The research team includes the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service’s Clinical Director of Addiction Medicine, Mental Health and Specialised services Associate Professor Kees Nydam and senior psychologist and UQ Rural Clinical School lecturer Daniel Banos Illan.

Related programs

Related articles

School captain inspired to study education degree
21 Feb

Urangan State High School’s 2021 Captain Hayden Kington will join more than 130 new students as they start their university journeys with Orientation at the University of the Sunshine Coast's Fraser Coast campus tomorrow.

Medallist defies the odds on inspiring academic journey
5 May

University of the Sunshine Coast’s Chancellor’s Medallist Kristy Benson has proven she likes to defy expectations, even her own.

Floods, new mystery disease impact starving marine turtles
3 May

University of the Sunshine Coast researchers and wildlife rescuers have joined forces as they deal with a large increase in stranded, sick, and deceased marine turtles from recent floods and the discovery of a mystery disorder that is eating away at turtle shells.


Name Position Email Phone
Janelle Kirkland Media Manager (Acting) +61 7 5459 4553
Clare McKay Media Relations Coordinator +61 7 5456 5669

Search results for Recent news