Suicide the leading cause of death for young Australians, and the number of suicide deaths among those aged 15 – 24 years has increased by 40% in the past decade. Suicidal thoughts are a strong predictor of suicide attempt in young people, however, it is estimated that 50% – 70% of young people with suicidal thoughts have not accessed mental health services for reasons relating to stigma, service unavailability, and, cost. Developing interventions which provide easy access to coping strategies at all times may be particularly important for connecting young people to help when they need it most. Digital interventions have potential to provide support during crisis periods, and there is good evidence that adults are able to access and benefit from interventions effectively through apps. To date, there have been very few trials of mental health apps for young people, and no trials for apps which target suicidality in a youth population.
The current project will comprise a randomised research trial that involves 378 young people aged 16 – 24 years, recruited from the community using targeted social media advertising. The key objectives of the trial are to establish whether the LifeBuoy app can reduce suicidal thinking in young people, and whether this app is acceptable for this purpose. Young people will be surveyed before receiving the intervention, immediately post-intervention, and then at a four-month follow up. A qualitative investigation into the acceptability and engagement with the app will be conducted with a sub-sample of young people who received the intervention.
Co-Investigators: Dr Aliza Werner-Seidler, Dr Quincy Wong, Dr Jin Han & Dr Bridianne O’Dea