Smartphone app tackles Indigenous youth suicide

1 Sep 2014

A University of Queensland project to develop a smartphone app to prevent Indigenous youth suicide has received more than $800,000 from the Federal Government.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Targeted Call for Research will fund a project led by UQ’s School of Medicine researcher Dr Maree Toombs. It was one of only four awarded nationally.

Dr Toombs said Queensland had Australia’s highest rate of youth suicide and Indigenous youth suicide rates were twice as high as that in the State’s overall population aged between 15 and 44.

“With this grant we will develop a community-led training program, which links health providers, community members, peers, school leaders and sporting mentors who will serve as gatekeepers,” Dr Toombs said.

“A smartphone app will then be developed that will connect the gatekeepers with local agencies, contact people and support help lines to get quick and accessible help for at-risk youth.”

The study will address two national health priority areas: Indigenous health and mental health.

This will involve collaboration between Indigenous researchers, building research capacity in the participating organisations, performing evaluation research to inform policy decision makers and promoting the role of NHMRC in Indigenous health.

Dr Toombs said the grant would help close the gap in the area of Indigenous mental health, reducing morbidity and mortality.

“There has been an overwhelming community endorsement of the application of this grant, with community forums held to seek advice on what is required to reduce the rates of suicide in youth,” she said.

Contact: School of Medicine Marketing and Communications Officer Brian Mallon, 3365 5254, 040 362 1109 or