The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
JM and RB led the consultations with SR and KR to develop the proposal and draft the manuscript. SR and KR contributed intellectual concepts and data about their work over many years in the Transition Support Service. KT contributed methodological oversight and mentoring in developing the design of the study. MW contributed cultural, intellectual and contextual advice for study design; AS advised on the multiple baseline design; CD on the economic analysis and SJ performed the sample size calculations. All authors read, commented and approved the final manuscript.
The proposed study was developed in response to increased suicide risk identified in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who are compelled to attend boarding schools across Queensland when there is no secondary schooling provision in their remote home communities. It will investigate the impact of a multicomponent mentoring intervention to increase levels of psychosocial resilience. We aim to test the null hypothesis that students’ resilience is not positively influenced by the intervention. The 5-year project was funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council from December 2014.
An integrated mixed methods approach will be adopted; each component iteratively informing the other. Using an interrupted time series design, the primary research methods are quantitative: 1) assessment of change in students’ resilience, educational outcomes and suicide risk; and 2) calculation of costs of the intervention. Secondary methods are qualitative: 3) a grounded theoretical model of the process of enhancing students’ psychosocial resilience to protect against suicide. Additionally, there is a tertiary focus on capacity development: more experienced researchers in the team will provide research mentorship to less experienced researchers through regular meetings; while Indigenous team members provide cultural mentorship in research practices to non-Indigenous members.
Australia’s suicide prevention policy is progressive but a strong service delivery model is lacking, particularly for Indigenous peoples. The proposed research will potentially improve students’ levels of resilience to mitigate against suicide risk. Additionally, it could reduce the economic and social costs of Indigenous youth suicide by obtaining agreement on what is good suicide prevention practice for remote Indigenous students who transition to boarding schools for education, and identifying the benefits-costs of an evidence-based multi-component mentoring intervention to improve resilience.