Suicide, self-harm and mental health


Suicide, self-harm and mental ill health are major public health issues with significant costs for individuals, families and the broader community. A public health response across populations in general, targeted at those who are at increased risk and directed at risk-factors for suicide prevention requires data for evidence-based interventions. Turning Point’s National Addiction and Mental Health Surveillance Unit (NAMHSU) National Ambulance Surveillance System (NASS) data is an important part of the public health evidence-base to reduce suicide.

The NASS data:

  • captures suicidal ideation, suicide attempt and non-suicidal injury that is not captured in other data sets, and
  • is timely – ambulance data is available within months of the event, thereby enabling more timely evaluation of interventions, patterns and at-risk populations (whilst suicide death data can take up to three years before they are available).

Our Beyond the Emergency project demonstrated the utility of ambulance data to provide robust and timely information on suicide and mental ill health issues in men. This project demonstrated the importance of these data for the entire Australian population. Such a need has been identified in the Mental Health Commission’s National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (reflected both in priority areas and key recommendations) and Council of Australian Governments (COAG’s) Roadmap for National Mental Health Reform 2012-2022 and the Victorian Royal Commission into mental health. This project was funded by Beyond Blue with donations from the Movember Foundation as an important contribution to the National Suicide Information Initiative, as announced in the 2019-20 Commonwealth Budget and now contributes data to the AIHW Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring Project.

Project team

Turning Point team

Associate Professor Debbie ScottDr Rowan Ogeil, Mr Michael McGrathMs Naomi Beard, NAMHSU ambulance data coding team, database staff.

Our funders

Learn more about this project

News articles:


  • Lubman, D., Heilbronn, C., Ogeil, R., Killian, J., Matthews, S., Smith, K., Bosley, E., Carney, R., McLaughlin, K., Wilson, A., Eastham, M., Shipp, C., Witt, K., Lloyd, B., Scott., D. (2020) National Ambulance Surveillance System: A novel method using coded Australian ambulance clinical records to monitor self-harm and mental health-related morbidity. PLoSOne Jul 2020, In: PLoS ONE. 15, 7 July, 16 p., e0236344
  • Ogeil, R., Witt, K., Scott, D., Smith, K., and Lubman, D. (2020) Self-reported Sleep Disturbance in Ambulance Attendances for Suicidal Ideation and Attempted Suicide Between 2012 and 2017. Journal of Affective Disorders Mar 15; 265, 364-374.
  • Scott, D., Crossin, R., Ogeil, R., Smith, K., Lubman, D. (2019) Exploring harms experienced by children aged 7-11 using ambulance attendance data: a 6-year comparison with adolescents aged 12-17. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 15, 1385