Laura Smith
Laura Smith
Laura Smith

Laura Smith

‘Tackling the Real Tassie Devil: Towards Best Practice for Youth Suicide Prevention in Regional and Rural Tasmania’

University of Tasmania, TAS
Awarded 2020
Co-funded by Rotary Club of Deloraine

“Driven by my own personal experience with the impact of suicide, I wanted to capitalise on this opportunity to complete some research that will have tangible benefits for young people, their families, and their communities in rural and regional Tasmania, and Australia.“

General Health PhD Scholarship

Researcher Profile

Laura is currently managing the evaluation of the National Suicide Prevention Trial in Tasmania and has research interests working alongside people in regional and rural areas, including people with lived experience of mental illness and suicide, youth, and children. Laura has worked in research and project roles in government departments across Australia, including the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Laura has studied psychology, philosophy, and public health, and has interests in the use of mixed-methods and action research approaches to inform research questions, policy decisions, and program evaluations.

Project Summary

Tasmania is one of 12 sites included in the Australian National Suicide Prevention Trial (NSPT), a key aim of which was to trial the application of a systems-based approach to suicide prevention (SP) among selected demographic subgroups in regional areas. In Tasmania, middle-aged and elderly people were targeted and a local level evaluation of trial activities, funded by Primary Health Tasmania, was conducted. The knowledge gained, while important, leaves a significant gap relating to SP in young people.

This research will build on findings from the local evaluation of Tasmanian NSPT activities and related work in order to:

  • Determine what the current best practice SP strategies are for youth in rural and regional Tasmania, and;
  • Develop recommendations and resources to guide the future implementation of these strategies.

Guided by community need and key stakeholder consultation, the research will be conducted in three stages. The first stage will bring together findings from the NSPT in Tasmania and in other trial sites, along with relevant literature and policy documents. Stage two will use mixed-methods research to explore the key areas and gaps in the evidence-base identified in stage one. Participants will be community members with lived experience and key stakeholders. At the third stage, the knowledge gained will be used to develop recommendations and resources for best practice SP among young people in regional and rural Tasmania that will be made available to Australian Rotary Health, the Rotary Club of Deloraine, and other relevant stakeholders.

Supervisors: Dr Jonathan Mond, Dr Ha Hoang & Professor Jane Pirkis

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