UNE research into the impact of rural youth suicide

Published 13 February 2013

Researchers at the University of New England are talking to young people living in rural areas about their experience of losing a friend to suicide.

By gaining an understanding of their experience, the researchers hope to develop a framework for understanding similarly bereaved young people in the future, and to help inform Government policy and procedure for use in schools and in health and community services to assist services after a suicide occurs.

The project is being undertaken by the CRN for Mental Health and Wellbeing in UNE’s School of Health. Mr Warren Bartik a clinical psychologist and mental health specialist will be visiting a number of locations, including Mt Isa and NSW’s Mid North Coast, conducting interviews with young people, aged 12 to 24 at the time they experienced the death of their friend, as part of his Doctoral research. “Young people closely affected by suicide are able to offer a unique insight into suicide,” he said, “allowing us to challenge assumptions, develop more appropriate prevention strategies, and understand the phenomenon more broadly. As suicide is unlikely to cease entirely, it is vital that we understand the experiences of those most closely affected, whose lives are changed forever.”

This project is encouraging bereaved young people to talk about their grief, and how a friend’s death had affected their lives. “To date, responses to youth suicide have primarily focused on prevention,” he explained. “While preventative work is vital, such a focus ignores the experiences of those most intimately involved in the suicide death of a young person.”

All participants, and any information they provided to the research project, would be treated confidentially. Participants under the age of 18 will need their parents’ permission to be interviewed.

For more information on the project, or to discuss the possibility of participating, please phone Warren Bartik on 0429 100 091 or  on (02) 6773 2462 or email wbartik2@une.edu.au

This project has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of the University of New England (Approval No.HE11/178, Valid to 20/12/2013.