Associate Professor Vida Bliokas and her team from the UOW School of Psychology and Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) have received almost $100,000 under Suicide Prevention Australia's Innovation Grant scheme.
Professor Bliokas and the team will now work on their project called 'Investigating gender differences in a suicide prevention aftercare program: How can we improve outcomes for all?'
The grant will fund a two-year project investigating the impact of suicide prevention service, the Next Steps Aftercare Program.
"This funding will allow us to collect sufficient data for a well-powered study to look at gender differences in the outcomes of the aftercare program," she said.
In 2018, suicide made up for more than one third of deaths among people aged 15-24.
Current data shows that men have higher rates of suicide than women do, with suicide the 10th most common cause of death among males. Despite this, they access the least amount of services.
Prof Bliokas hopes to investigate the reason behind this pattern.
"Receiving this grant is important because it will help us to understand which interventions assist people in their recovery following a suicide attempt, or a time when they were at high risk for suicide," she said.
In the context of COVID-19, the funding was also a welcome boost, as there has been ample concern around the effects of isolation on mental wellbeing.
She said that while mental health services have adapted to an online delivery, it is important to look out for vulnerable people who might be hardest hit by the restrictions.
Prof Bliokas is also a founding member of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative, which was created at an IHMRI team meeting in 2015.
The Collaborative has grown to be a partnership of more than 40 local organisations that work together to prevent suicide in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven, including working with local workplaces and schools to educate people on how to talk about suicide.
Support services include Lifeline: 13 11 14, Beyond Blue: 1300 659 467 and Reach Out: ReachOut.com