The suicide prevention trial in Tasmania

The Tasmanian component of the National Suicide Prevention Trial is funded through Primary Health Tasmania across three locations: Break O’Day, three north west municipalities (Burnie, Central Coast and Devonport) and Launceston.

All three locations are using the Black Dog Institute’s LifeSpan suicide prevention model – a community-led approach that is aimed at reducing suicide and suicide attempts by building the capacity of the community to better support people facing a suicide crisis.

Initially slated to end in June 2020, the Australian Government announced in January it would provide $13.4 million in 2020-21 to extend the National Suicide Prevention Trial sites for a further year, including funding to enhance the evaluation of the various suicide prevention activities across the country.

It’s important to keep in mind this is a time-limited trial to test the effectiveness of a new approach – one that involves implementing a range of suicide prevention activities at the same time. It isn’t focused on reducing suicide in particular communities in the short term by putting new services on the ground.

At a statewide level, Primary Health Tasmania is working with pharmacy and general practice organisations to look at ways of supporting community pharmacists and GPs in suicide prevention.

Contact us if you would like to know more.

Read on to find out a bit about how each Tasmanian trial site is taking on the challenge in their local community.

Reflecting on lessons from the Tasmanian suicide prevention trial

The Australian Government has committed to a national evaluation of all 12 regions taking part in the National Suicide Prevention Trial, to learn about what worked, what was challenging, and where future opportunities may exist.

In 2018, Primary Health Tasmania also commissioned researchers from the University of Tasmania’s Centre for Rural Health to explore how the trial unfolded on a local level, to make sure key lessons were captured within the Tasmanian context.

On March 31, 2021, key participants in the Tasmanian component of the National Suicide Prevention Trial came together in Launceston to discuss effective skills and strategies for promoting mental health and wellbeing in their local communities.

For Primary Health Tasmania, these lessons broadly fell into three categories — planning, operational work, and sustainability — and affirmed our commitment to working collaboratively with members of the Tasmanian community, including those with lived experience.

It also enriched our understanding of the co-design process — that is, what works best when working with community members and other organisations to drive suicide prevention efforts.

Moving forward, the evaluation’s insights will furnish other Primary Health Tasmania-related projects and initiatives, such as:

  • Future direction of community-based suicide prevention activity in Tasmania
  • The Tasmanian Suicide Prevention Strategy – Given the significant amount of work underway at a national level to review and develop national suicide prevention policy, it’s been decided to extend the current Tasmanian suicide prevention strategy to 2022 to enable us to consider and incorporate insights and lessons learnt from the national activity. This will ensure that the next suicide prevention strategy for Tasmania is contemporary and informed by the best available evidence. Learn more here.
  • Rethink 2020 – Tasmania’s shared mental health plan. Learn more here.
  • Working with Communities Toolkit– the key resource that outlines principles for the way we work with consumer groups and communities, and align with the seven safety and quality standards included in the Safety and Quality Framework 2020–23.

Click here to download an infographic produced by the University of Tasmania researchers summarising the state’s trial activity.

Break O'Day

The Break O’Day region extends along Tasmania’s east coast from Eddystone Point, south to Denison River, and west to the eastern portion of the Fingal Valley. It’s a picturesque part of Tasmania that lays claim to some of the state’s most scenic spots.

But the local government area’s residents – almost 30 per cent of whom are aged over 65 – have felt the impact of suicide in recent years. In response, locals have been coming together to confront the challenge of suicide since before the trial began, including through their Community Champions initiative.

It’s a proactive legacy the working group hope to build on with a range of trial activities aimed at extending the safety net across a relatively spread out population.

Establishing a bereavement support group, training locals to identify and refer people in distress, and advanced suicide prevention training for health workers in the area are just some of the items on the to-do list.

Want to get involved? Click here to get in touch with the Break O’Day working group.

Spotlight on: The Safe Place Cafe in Break O'Day

Question: How do you give members of a local community a safe place to chat when they’re scattered up and along Tasmania’s east coast?

Answer: You put it on the road.

The Safe Place Café is a mobile coffee van that travels to a different part of the Break O’Day region for two days each fortnight.

The van is manned by a project officer and one or two volunteers who provide coffee, resources and a listening ear for locals who come and say hello.

The Safe Place Café is one of a number of community initiatives being trialed in the Bicheno and Break O’Day areas as part of the Tasmanian component of the National Suicide Prevention Trial, supported by Primary Health Tasmania.

Read more about it here.

North west

Burnie, Central Coast and Devonport councils have joined together with clinical and community service providers to strengthen and support efforts to help prevent suicide across their local government areas.

The north west working group has chosen three crucial principles to guide their suicide prevention efforts: coordination, collaboration and sustainability.

These key concepts underpin the group’s focus on activities designed to build stronger links across the north west’s clinical and community sectors.

This means investigating issues like how people at risk of suicide are referred between services, offering training to a wide array of individuals, organisations and workplaces (including men’s sheds, aged care, frontline services and more), and working with the media to encourage safe reporting on suicide.

If you want to know more, or are interested in getting involved, click here.

Spotlight on: Burnie Rugby Club's Talk to a Mate suicide awareness gala

Encouraging, engaging and empowering. They’re the three words that sum up the north west suicide prevention trial site’s Doing Better Together grants.

Nominations for the grants opened in early March, with funding available to help community organisations turn their ideas for a suicide prevention or wellbeing activity into reality.

It’s all part of the Tasmanian component of the National Suicide Prevention Trial, supported by Primary Health Tasmania and including the trial site location of the Burnie, Central Coast and Devonport in the state’s north west.

One successful applicant was the Burnie Rugby Club, which used the grant funding to host their Talk to a Mate Gala, raising awareness of suicide and suicide prevention, on Saturday 11 May.

Read more about it here.


For the Launceston community, the local component of the national suicide prevention trial presents an opportunity to come together to try a new approach to suicide prevention in Tasmania’s second largest city.

This willingness to pitch in is illustrated by the variety of voices within the site’s working group, which includes representatives from Anglicare, the University of Tasmania, police, medical centres, neighbourhood houses and the Migrant Resource Centre Tasmania, to name a few.

Its diversity is also reflected in the activities scheduled to take place in the region as part of trial. QPR (Question, Respond and Refer) training for emergency services workers, identifying male and seniors suicide prevention community champions, and establishing a lived experience of suicide group are just some of the initiatives the group will explore.

Notably, the Launceston trial site has a particular focus on the northern suburbs and will collaborate with the Launceston City Council to link in with existing initiatives in this area.

Do you want to get involved? Click here to find out more.

Spotlight on: Launceston's Roses in the Ocean training

What do we mean when we talk about ‘lived experience’ of suicide?
One way to define it is:

…having experienced suicidal thoughts, survived a suicide attempt, cared for someone through suicidal crisis, or been bereaved by suicide.

That’s according to Roses in the Ocean – a lead organisation for lived experience of suicide in Australia. Roses in the Ocean is dedicated to building a safe, trained and supported lived experience ‘workforce’ with the expertise and skills needed to add their voice to conversations about suicide prevention.

In April, the Launceston suicide prevention trial working group brought Roses in the Ocean to Tasmania and offered up the training opportunity to locals with an interest in building their confidence as a lived experience advocate.

Read more about it here.