Next Steps wins grant to explore gender differences in suicide prevention

The Next Steps suicide prevention initiative has won an Innovation Research Grant from Suicide Prevention Australia. The grant will enable the Next Steps team to explore gender differences in suicide prevention aftercare programs. The research will be led by Associate Professor Vida Bliokas alongside Dr Luise Lago, Dr Alex Hains, Senior Professor Brin Grenyer, Dr Rebecca Sng, and Tim Heffernan.

It's well-documented that there are distinct gender differences in most aspects of suicidality, such as the rates of suicide and suicide attempts. However, there is little data available to inform the design of gender-specific interventions.

Research into gender-specific interventions for Next Steps aims to fill this gap. Next Steps is a community-based aftercare service offered to people after a suicide-related visit to an Emergency Department (ED), run by Grand Pacific Health, South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation, and Flourish Australia. It is co-led by clinicians and peer workers. 

Associate Professor Vida Bliokas says, "Receiving this grant will help us to understand the types of interventions that assist people in their recovery following a suicide attempt or following a time when they were at high risk for suicide. We know that not all approaches are suitable for all people, and in particular, men and women may benefit from different approaches. It is important that we understand these differences better, and take this knowledge into account when designing interventions.”

As part of the grant, several studies will be conducted to determine how to best support men and women in Next Steps aftercare. It will address questions such as: do men and women differ in their engagement with Next Steps? What is helpful or unhelpful for men and women? What are the particular outcomes for men and women?

The findings of this research will guide recommendations for the design of suicide prevention aftercare programs, both in the Illawarra Shoalhaven and nationally.

Read more in the Illawarra Mercury.