Rotary co-funds study

Suicide. Tasmania currently has the highest rates of youth suicide in Australia, and members of the Smithton community are making it their priority to take action.

Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Smithton were concerned of the high rates of suicide and self-harm in their local area and collaborated with Australian Rotary Health to co-fund a PhD scholarship to investigate the issue.

PhD candidate Nicole Hill began her research into suicide risk factors across Australia at the University of Melbourne last year.

In particular, Nicole hopes her research findings will inform the development and evaluation of a local suicide prevention action plan for the Smithton community.

“Tasmania currently has the highest rates of youth suicide in the country and so an essential part of my research involves investigating ways in which youth suicides in Tasmania differ from elsewhere in the country,” Nicole said.

In one phase of her PhD studies, Nicole will conduct a systematic review of community suicide cluster prevention initiatives worldwide.

“This review will form an evaluation framework, which will be provided to the Smithton community, to help guide them as they develop their local Suicide Prevention Action Plan.

“This will include a series of community consultation workshops with local stakeholders, in Smithton, who work with young people or are interested in suicide prevention.”

Nicole also plans to disseminate these findings through two separate peer-reviewed publications.

“As a society we need to provide a supportive environment that encourages young people to thrive. However, in order to do all this, we need to make sure our approach is supported by high quality evidence from well conducted research.

“It is wonderful to work with local members of Smithton who are so invested in the prevention of suicide in the community.”

Rotary Club of Smithton member Gerard Blizzard said the club felt strongly on the subject: “Simply because it is something that needs to be studied.

“The numbers for Tasmania are there and our little corner is not immune from that.

“We need to try to gain an understanding of why some areas are worse than others and be able to put plans in place to lessen that.”

Australian Rotary Health is one of the largest independent funders of mental health research within Australia. To donate, visit the Australian Rotary Health website: www.australianrotaryhealth.org.au.