Reasons for living study reveals insights into suicide prevention workforce

Connection to others and service are the two main reasons for living among those with lived experience of suicide entering the suicide prevention workforce, a Griffith University study has found.

Published in the journal Death Studies — the collaborative research project between the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) and suicide prevention organisation Roses in the Ocean — involved 110 people who participated in suicide prevention training programs.

“The aim was to explore the reasons for living of people with a lived experience of suicide and who are in the early stages of entering the lived experience workforce as suicide prevention peer workers,’’ says lead author Jacinta Hawgood, from AISRAP and the School of Applied Psychology.

The research found connections to others followed by service were the most commonly stated reasons for living. Other important reasons for living included orientation towards the future, life, self, pleasure, and spiritual reasons and values.

Ms Hawgood says the findings are important because a person’s reasons for living protect them against suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.

“Reasons for living increase the perception that life is meaningful and participating in the suicide prevention field is associated with meaning-making.”

Martina McGrath from Roses in the Ocean said unique to this study was the theme of contributing to society and making a change by directly helping others.

“The suicide prevention peer workforce is in its infancy in Australia and internationally, and particularly at this time of COVID-19 requires further research and guidance from those with lived experience around what support is needed to ensure their contributions can continue to positively impact the suicide prevention sector.”

If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline: 13 11 14, or Q Life: 1800 184 527.