Research conducted at Orygen has received the 2021 Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) award for Excellence in Medical Research.
The award honours the authors of the best original clinical research article published in MJA in each calendar year.
The study, Suicide by young Australians, 2006–2015: a cross‐sectional analysis of national coronial data, found that mental ill-health was a major contributor to Australian youth suicide.
The study revealed that the majority of young Australians who died by suicide between 2006 and 2015 had either a diagnosed or a likely mental health disorder, yet more than two-thirds were not in contact with mental health services at the time of their deaths.
Lead author of the study, Dr Nicole Hill, currently with Telethon Kids Institute, said she was honoured to receive the award.
Nicole said the study is the first large-scale investigation that puts a spotlight onto the lifestressors that young people faced prior to their to suicide that can be used to drive decisions in suicide prevention with better precision.
“This study is important because it gives a voice to those young Australian’s who have died by suicide so that we can learn from their experiences to drive necessary policy and suicide prevention service reform.
“A key finding was that one in two young people who died by suicide had a known mental-health problem and had sought help.
“We need to be doing more to understand how we can strengthen community mental health and the healthcare service system to better meet the needs of young people during a suicidal crisis,” Nicole, said.
Jo Robinson, who leads Orygen’s suicide prevention research, said the authors were thrilled to receive this award which acknowledges the seriousness of the issue of suicide and self-harm among young people in Australia.
“However, despite significant investment in prevention, the number of youth suicides have not substantially decreased,” she said.
“The coronial data that we examined showed that we need to re-think our approach to suicide prevention, including at policy level, and reshape how we configure services so young people stop falling through the cracks.”
“We are making some progress in relation to this,” Jo said.
“The Australian Government has invested in a National Suicide Prevention Office and leadership program, which we hope will be continued by the new Labour Government and the Victorian Governement, has begun to act on implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission into mental health.”
But key to real progress, Jo said, were young people themselves.
“We need to be listening to what young people want and need. They need to be factored into our decision making at every level.”