Background to the project

Background to the project

Conversations Matter was developed under a project originally called “Community Guidelines for Discussing Suicide”, funded as part of the NSW Suicide Prevention Strategy 2010-2015.

The Hunter Institute of Mental Health (HIMH) was contracted by the NSW Ministry of Health to work in consultation with a state-wide steering committee to develop resources to support community conversations about suicide. The roll out of the project across NSW is being supported by the NSW Mental Health Commission.

The development of Conversations Matter involved a multifaceted approach that includes the following stages:

STAGE 1: Evidence review 

A review of the research evidence, and a thematic analysis of the content used in current program approaches was conducted to establish evidenceā€based recommendations on which to base the content and format of the resources.

STAGE 2: Sector consultations 

A consultation and engagement strategy has been completed with key stakeholders within identified target settings (e.g. educational settings, workplaces, families and communities) and has included documenting the outcomes of four consultation forums.

STAGE 3: Community consultations 

To ensure the widespread relevance of the resources, a series of focus groups and key informant interviews have been conducted with identified target groups in the NSW community that may be the end users of the resources. This study obtained ethical approval through the Hunter New England Human Research Ethics Committee (HNEHREC reference No: 12/03/21/4.02; HREC reference No: HREC/12/HNE/70). 

STAGE 4: Aboriginal consultations 

HIMH partnered with Aboriginal Medical services to collect qualitative data from stakeholders and members of three Aboriginal communities to inform development of a resource to guide discussion about suicide in Aboriginal communities. Ethics approval from Hunter New England Research Ethics Committee (HNEHREC) was given on the 4th February 2013; HNEHREC Ref No: 12/11/21/4.06. Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council Ethics Committee gave approval for the project on 11 March 2013; Ref No: 897/12.

STAGE 5: Development and review of core principles 

Draft principles were written after reviewing and analysing the available evidence and the existing examples of practice, in combination with feedback obtained from consultations with key informants). The draft principles covered advice on prevention, intervention and postvention conversations.

Three review panels were asked to review the principles confidentially. One of the review panels was made of experts in suicide prevention, one was made of professionals working in specific settings (e.g. schools, workplaces, families and communities) and the third panel was made of people representing target populations (e.g. young people, men, rural communities etc)

Each panel member was asked to indicate their level of agreement with each principle, based on a seven point scale, from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” They were also given the option to provide further comments on each of the principles. Following two rounds of review, a final set of core principles for prevention-focused conversations, intervention-focused conversations and postvention-focused conversations were developed to guide resource development.

STAGE 6: Development of Online Resources

A suite of online resources were developed to support community conversations about suicide. They were developed in multi-media formats to provide basic advice to community members as well as professionals working with communities. The resources were officially launched on 14 November 2013 and will be enhanced to support suicide preventon activities across NSW.