Background: Suicide is a leading cause of death among Indigenous Australians. Friends and family and non-Indigenous frontline workers are often best positioned to provide initial assistance if someone is suicidal. Culturally appropriate expert consensus guidelines on how to provide mental health first aid to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who are experiencing suicidal thoughts were developed in 2009. Our study has re-developed these guidelines to ensure they contain the most current recommended helping actions.
Method: The Delphi Consensus Method was used to elicit consensus on potential helping statements to be included in the guidelines. These statements describe helping actions that Indigenous community members and non-Indigenous frontline workers can take, and information they should have, to help someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts. A panel was formed, comprised of 27 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who are experts in Indigenous suicide. The panelists were presented with the helping statements via online questionnaires and were encouraged to suggest re-wording of statements and any additional helping statements that were not included in the original questionnaire. Statements were only accepted for inclusion in the guidelines if they were endorsed by ≥ 90% of panelists as essential or important.
Results: From a total of 300 statements shown to the expert panel, 172 were endorsed as helping statements to be including in the re-developed guidelines.
Conclusions: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide experts were able to reach consensus on appropriate strategies for providing mental health first aid to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders experiencing suicidal thoughts. The re-development of the guidelines has resulted in more comprehensive guidance than the earlier version, where the panel had rated 166 helping statements and had only endorsed 52. The re-developed guidelines will form the basis of a suicide gatekeeper training short course for Indigenous community members and non-Indigenous frontline workers that will be evaluated in an upcoming trial.