Jo Robinson, M.Sc., Orygen Youth Health Research Center
Standard Research Grant (2009): $74,700
A Randomized Controlled Trial Investigating the Impact of a Regular SMS on Suicide Risk among School Students
Abstract: While we know a reasonable amount about the epidemiology of suicide less is known about effective interventions to reduce risk; in particular there is limited evidence generated from randomized controlled trials. The primary aim of this study is to examine whether or not maintaining regular contact with young people via Short Message Service (SMS) can reduce their risk of suicidal ideation (SI) and/or deliberate self-harm (DSH); additionally this research will examine the acceptability of distributing key health promotion messages using this form of media. Secondary school students who seek help from the school counselor and who have a history of SI or DSH will be invited to participate in this study. Those who agree will be randomized into either a treatment or control group with the treatment group receiving a regular SMS, containing messages of support and information about appropriate sources of help over a period of three months. Psychological assessments will be conducted on all participants at three time points during the study: baseline; immediately following the end of the intervention and three months later. If effective, this intervention would be suitable for long-term implementation throughout schools and clinical settings because it does not require great additional resources; in addition it has the potential to reach a larger group of people than traditional follow-up methods, which rely heavily on personal contact in a population for whom non-compliance is a significant factor.