Which organisation is delivering this program / service?

Lifeline Australia

What are the aims and objectives of this program / service?

SafeTALK in Schools aims to engage youth in a school environment (Year 11 students at age 16+) in awareness raising of suicide prevention and motivation to seek help and support others who are distressed and vulnerable to suicidal thoughts and actions – building the capacity of young persons and those around them to prevent suicide.

The LivingWorks safeTALK program, which has been incorporated into the schools initiative, aims to increase participants’ willingness, confidence and ability to recognise when a person may have thoughts of suicide and facilitate timely safe connections with someone able to increase their suicide safety and access further help as needed.

safeTALK participant objectives:
• More alert to suicide
• More informed about signs that someone may be considering suicide
• More willing to ask about suicide
• Better able to facilitate suicide-safe connections
• Improved knowledge of suicide safety resources
• More open, willing, able and, confident to seek and provide help

safeTALK community objectives:
• suicide-safer schools and organisations
• Help-seeking is encouraged
• Suicide is discussible
• Pathways to suicide safety are known and accessed

What does delivery of this program / service involve?

The safeTALK in Schools program brings together community engagement practices, youth engagement principles and coordination of local services with a proven education program (safeTALK) to create an integrated schools suicide prevention program that is suitable for Australian environment, including where students are from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds and from remote or rural locations. The program strengthens linkages between schools, families and local mental health support services such as Headspace.

The LivingWorks safeTALK training which has been incorporated into this schools program offers an interactive 3-hour learning experience. It is delivered by an accredited safeTALK trainer and is designed to be accessible to a diverse range of participants who may encounter suicide in the context of everyday informal relationships. The training is offered in general community settings or as part of the suicide safety strategy - for example, within organisations or schools.

The quality and consistency of safeTALK is supported by trainer training, a comprehensive Trainer Manual, audio-visual learning aids and a wallet card to guide an intervention, based on safeTALK helping steps.

The flexibility and portability of safeTALK is enabled by customisation options within the Trainer Manual, incorporating the training in wrap-around initiatives and encouragement of collaborative adaptations between LivingWorks and local providers - for example in video vignettes for specific audiences.

A Literature review describing the rationale and core concepts of safeTALK and research informing its development is available.

safeTALK in Schools Reviewers Summary

The Lifeline safeTALK in Schools program evaluation in three schools in Alice Spring has been conducted and reported well, and the evaluation outcomes are promising.

A rigorous pre-post study found positive effects of the program. As acknowledged in the research publication and report, further research is needed that evaluates the program in a larger and more diverse sample, uses a control condition to establish that any change observed are not simply due to the passage of time, and the inclusion of a longer follow-up.

Lack of comparison groups and study design (pre/post) is a limitation of the study. A Randomised Control Trial (if feasible) would provide much stronger research evidence. Also a longer follow-up period could strengthen the study design.

Safety protocols:

Monitoring of adverse events was included in the evaluation program, as one of its aims was to test whether safeTALK is not associated with increases in suicidal ideation and psychological distress.

It would be of interest, although beyond the scope of the current evaluation program, how effective were the help and support provided to student participants deemed "at risk".

Reviewers have identified the following consideration(s) relating to this program / service review

Partial Evidence 

Research/evaluation activity has only focussed on certain components/target groups/settings; and/or the body of evidence indicates inconsistency in terms of whether the program or service achieves its impact(s); and/or rating only based on one or two research/evaluation projects.

Only one evaluation of safeTALK in Schools has been conducted to date.