Suicide prevention program evaluation

Evaluating suicide prevention programs is an important aspect of service delivery. Evaluation should be included in your program because:

  • The key priority to 'do no harm' can be addressed
  • It can help decide if the program is achieving reducing the suicide risk in the target group
  • It provides opportunities to demonstrate success to funding bodies
  • The findings can be used to improve and refine the suicide prevention program
  • Sharing the findings broadens the evidence base of how to effectively prevent suicide

These points above cover a number of Action Areas of the LIFE Framework for prevention of suicide in Australia.

Designing an evaluation?

It is recommended that you include the evaluation component of your suicide prevention in the program design. The following information may assist you with this process.

LIFE resources
LIFE Fact sheet 14: Project evaluation
LIFE Framework
LIFE Research and evidence in suicide prevention
LIFE News issue 11: project evaluation 

Program evaluation resources
A basic guide to program evaluation
A guide for using statistics for evidence based policy
A manual to guide the development of local evaluation plans: evaluating initiatives within the LIFE Framework using a program logic approach
Best Practices Registry For Suicide Prevention (Suicide Prevention Resource Centre)
Evaluating your program (Suicide Prevention Resource Centre)
Evaluation: a guide for good practice
Evaluation resources (Suicide Prevention Resource Centre)
Health Communication Unit Resource Library, University of Toronto
Suicide prevention: prevention effectiveness and evaluation 
Victorian Government Health Information: Health Promotion

Program evaluation providers
Using an exteneral evaluator is one way to ensure your evaluation is objective. Independent evaluators may be found at your local university or the Australasian Evaluation Society.

Reporting and sharing evalutions
The LIFE Framework emphasises the importance of evaluation and sharing key learnings with the suicide prevention sector. Below are some sample evaluation reports and published research. These reports are kept in the LIFE library and LIFE encourages anyone undertaking evaluation to share their reports - either in full or summary. Please contact LIFE Communications for more information.

Evaluation of a project to raise community awareness of suicide risk among older men (research article, 2008)
Standby Replication Project: final evaluation report (United Synergies Ltd & Department of Health, 2009)
Towards evidence-based suicide prevention programmes (World Health Organization, 2010)
Valuing young lives (article on National Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy evaluation, 2000)
Valuing young lives: evaluation of the National Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy (2000)

You can read other documents relevant to evaluation held in the LIFE library here.

You may also wish to share information or ask questions about suicide prevention program evaluation through our Professional Development Network forum.