Dubbo Registered Psychologist and Suicidologist, Annie Fardell-Hartley, is calling out for volunteers as she aims to tackle an alarming issue which is currently on the rise among rural NSW Youth.
Ms Fardell-Hartley is asking people aged 13-25, family members, professionals and residents from Dubbo, and Central and Far West NSW to participate in a study investigating the use of social media by young people who have suicidal thoughts or plans.
The local PhD study, conducted by Ms Fardell-Hartley, aims to investigate how young rural people use social media to communicate suicidality online and their reasons for doing so.
Ms Fardell-Hartley said this would also examine how online suicidal communication is interpreted and responded to by the wider rural community.
"Suicide is a well-established public health issue in Australia, particularly in rural and remote areas, and it is the number one cause of death for young people aged 15 to 24," Ms Fardell-Hartley said.
Ms Fardell-Hartley said, "with social media being a relatively new phenomenon, its application to the global area of suicide prevention appears to be a double-edged sword that has both advantages and disadvantages, and needs further investigation."
"The public broadcasting of suicidal intent online has become a public health issue in many countries around the world, including Australia, with some studies showing those who communicate suicidality online are at a higher severity of the risk. Disclosing online may feel like a relatively safe option in comparison to face to face, with the perception that it will be directed to those similar experiences and sensibilities with some distance.
"With over 50 per cent of Internet-related suicide victims being young people and online intervention strategies relatively unexplored, it is pertinent to focus on how young people who are vulnerable to suicidality can be protected.
"Increasing knowledge in this area can inform clinical practice, community response and policy development.
"The study will be conducted via different platforms, including face to face interviews and focus groups for those with direct experience, and an online questionnaire for interested community members also wishing to participate."
For further information or to participate in the study go to Ms Fardell-Hartley's website at; https://fardellhartley.wixsite.com/phdresearch.
Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts can get help by calling suicide prevention Australia on 9262 1120, Lifeline on 13 14 11, or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.