Understanding the utility of “Talk-to-Me” an online suicide prevention program for Australian university students

Bahareh Afsharnejad, Ben Milbourn*, Cherylee Brown, Rhonda Clifford, Kitty Rose Foley, Alexandra Logan, Stephan Lund, Tawanda Machingura, Tomomi McAuliffe, Beth Mozolic-Staunton, Nicole Sharp, Maya Hayden-Evans, Ellie Baker Young, Melissa Black, Frank Zimmermann, Viktor Kacic, Sven Bölte, Sonya Girdler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Background: Australian university students are at risk of experiencing poor mental health, being vulnerable to self-harm and suicidal ideation. Aim: “Talk-to-Me” is a suicide ideation prevention Massive open online course (MOOC) previously showing it can support Western Australian university students' knowledge of identifying and responding to suicide ideation in themselves and others. Methods: A multi-site one-group pre-test/post-test design with a 12-week follow-up explored the efficacy of “Talk-to-Me” for university students Australia-wide, evaluating the influence of COVID-19 and location. Overall, 217 students (55% female; mage = 24.93 years [18, 60]) enrolled in this study from 2020 to 2021. Participants' responses to suicidal statements, mental health literacy, generalized self-efficacy, help-seeking behavior, and overall utility of the program were collected at baseline, post-MOOC (10 weeks from baseline) and 12-week follow-up. The effect of time and location interaction was explored using a random-effects regression model. Results: Findings indicated significant improvement in participants' knowledge of positive mental health support strategies (ES = 0.42, p < 0.001) and recognizing appropriate responses to suicidal statements (ES = 0.37, p < 0.001) at 10-weeks, with further improvement at 12 weeks follow-up (ES = 0.47 and 0.46, p < 0.001). Students reported higher generalized self-efficacy at the 12-week follow-up compared to baseline (ES = 0.19, p = 0.03) and an increased tendency to seek professional help for mental health issues (ES = 0.22, p = 0.02). Conclusion: These findings provide preliminary evidence of the efficacy of the “Talk-to-Me” program in supporting ‎university students across Australia to increase their suicide-related knowledge and skills, ‎general self-efficacy, and overall mental fitness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-738
Number of pages14
JournalSuicide and Life-Threatening Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


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