The nine LifeSpan strategies

LifeSpan involves the implementation of nine evidence-based strategies from population level to the individual, implemented simultaneously within a localised region. For successful delivery, all strategies require a thorough consultation and review process to ensure their relevance and tailoring to the local context and community.

1Aftercare and crisis care
A suicide attempt is the strongest risk factor for subsequent suicide. To reduce the risk of a repeat attempt, a coordinated approach to improving the care of people after a suicide attempt is required. Supporting this should include the development of suicide prevention and crisis teams and the development of resource packs for patients.
2Psychosocial and pharmacotherapy treatments
Mental illness is associated with a large portion of suicide attempts. Providing accessible and appropriate mental health care is essential to suicide prevention. The two main therapeutic options that have been found to reduce suicidal thoughts and behaviours are psychosocial treatment (such as cognitive behaviour therapy) and pharmacotherapy (using pharmaceutical drugs to treat mental illness and associated symptoms). Actions could include the development and dissemination of treatment guidelines and new approaches to screening for mental illness and/or symptoms.
3GP capacity building and support
Primary care clinician education is one of the most promising interventions for reducing suicide. Suicidal individuals visit primary care providers in the weeks or days before suicide. In Australia, GPs are the most frequently reported providers of mental health care. The relevant bodies should identify, commission, and promote GP education based on evidence-based criteria.
4Frontline staff training
Frontline staff training Involves the upskilling of occupations that come into contact with people experiencing suicidal crisis during the course of their work, such as police, ambulance and emergency department workers.
Upskilling this audience to better identify and safely manage people at risk of suicide should be employed.
5Gatekeeper training
Gatekeeper training involves upskilling community-based individuals who come into contact with at risk populations (i.e. social workers, community mental health workers, religious leaders, teachers, etc) and may be able to influence a suicidal person’s decision to access care. Gatekeeper programs focus on increasing mental health literacy and teaching skills to assess, manage, and provide resources for at-risk individuals. The identification of potential gatekeepers across the community and the provision of gatekeeper training where appropriate should be employed.
6School programs
Schools provide a cost-effective and convenient way of reaching young people. School-based programs are often focused on increasing help-seeking, mental health literacy, and knowledge of suicide warning signs and help strategies. Schools should adopt evidence-based programs that can be delivered within national social and emotional well-being frameworks.
7Community campaigns
These are best delivered in conjunction with other strategies and may improve mental health literacy in the general population. Relevant stakeholders should work collaboratively to ensure targeted, consistent messaging.
8Media guidelines
Suicidal behaviour can be learned from the media. Media outlets should refer to suicide reporting guidelines to ensure safe and responsible reporting of suicide.
9Means restriction
Restricting access to the means of suicide is considered to be one of the most effective suicide prevention strategies. Analysing data on suicide deaths may reveal suicide ‘hot spots’ and means restriction should then be tailored to these areas and means.

Multiple strategies = more lives saved

Recognising that multiple strategies implemented at the same time are likely to generate bigger effects than just the sum of its parts (i.e., due to synergistic effects). LifeSpan offers a data driven, evidence-based approach, setting it apart from current practise and raising the bar in suicide prevention.