Target-setting is great for progress, but is it right for suicide prevention?
What is the “right’ suicide prevention target? Does a target of 50% imply acceptance that in Australia 1300 people will die by suicide each year?
Setting targets has become commonplace as a way of measuring achievement and progress. We have seen this recently as the future ecology of our planet and the complexity of international policy on climate change has been reduced to negotiations around a series of targets.
It is as though the targets give meaning to the goal for change.
So surely we should set targets for suicide prevention, right? How better to concentrate efforts than to set targets for a reduction in the tragic loss of life to suicide? And surely setting targets is a way to communicate and engage with the wider community in results-based suicide prevention?
This has already started. In 2013, the World Health Organisation (WHO) promoted a target of 10% reduction in suicides by 2020 for member countries, of which Australia is one. Then, in 2014, the WHO released its first ever report on suicide documenting the key elements of any national strategy for suicide prevention, drawing on research evidence and expert opinion.