Mental Health Research

‘Optimising caring contact: Using text messages to support people after a suicide attempt

Black Dog Institute, University of New South Wales, NSW
Awarded 2019

Sponsored by: Neville & Patti Parsons, Rotary Club of Wauchope, NSW

“Follow-up care and support following discharge from hospital is important to prevent future repetition of self-harm or suicide attempts – however many people don’t receive any follow-up support.”

Researcher Profile

Dr Mark Larsen is a Research Fellow at the Black Dog Institute, University of New South Wales. He is a Chief Investigator on the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention (CRESP II), and also works in the Digital Dog research program.

His research examines the use of new technology for mental health, with a focus on suicide prevention.

Project Summary

RAFT is a text-message follow-up for young people who come to the hospital emergency department following an episode of self-harm or a suicide attempt. Simple strategies like follow-up postcards have shown reductions in repeat hospital presentations – and we hope text messages can also be effective at reducing repeat self-harm and suicide attempts.

This study aims to optimise the RAFT text messages, by examining different follow-up strategies. Participants who agree to join the study will be randomly allocated to receive different types of messages – 1) where they just receive text messages, 2) where the messages contain links to online therapeutic content, and 3) where a nominated friend or family member also receives messages on how to support the participant and themselves. After six months, we will look at whether the different types of messages have an impact on hospital presentations or thoughts about self-harm and suicide.

Co-Investigators: Dr Fiona Shand, A/Professor Kirsten Morley, A/Professor Philip Battenham, Dr Sofian Berrouiguet, Professor Paul Haber, Professor Greg Carter & Professor Helen Christensen