Principles for the National Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring System

The Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring System (the suicide monitoring system) provides a single, authoritative, reliable source of data related to suicide and self-harm across Australia.

To achieve this, the suicide monitoring system needs to build and maintain trust by actively communicating with monitoring system users and the public about the intended benefits of the monitoring system, the nature of the data included, the safety and privacy of the data and how they can be accessed.

Included here are the principles by which decisions are made regarding what data is included in the suicide monitoring system and how they are accessed. (Note: The order of the principles listed here should not be interpreted as reflecting priority; all of these principles are equally important.)

Fit for purpose

Data included in the suicide monitoring system will inform decision-making related to suicide and self-harm prevention. The relevance of data will be determined by an assessment of alignment to this purpose. Data users will be involved in this assessment, i.e. people with lived experience of suicide, consumers and carers, governments, service planners and commissioners, and service providers.

Data quality

The suicide monitoring system will only include and publish data from sources that meet a standard of accuracy and reliability acceptable by the AIHW. Data collection must meet requirements of ethics standards and approvals. The suicide monitoring system will continually improve the quality of suicide and self-harm data available for inclusion.

Data scope

Collectively, the data included will aim to reflect the comprehensive and multi-factorial nature of suicide and self-harm. Furthermore, by including the most up-to-date data available, the suicide monitoring system aims to inform suicide prevention activities in the most timely manner possible.

In order to contribute a more complete picture of people’s experiences of suicidality, the suicide monitoring system will look to include data related to protective factors as well as risk factors, wherever possible. 

To maximise the relevance, the suicide monitoring system will present data publicly and at the most localised level that is safely possible.

Harm minimisation

The suicide monitoring system acknowledges unintentional misuse or irresponsible use of its data may cause harm to people and contribute to reinforcing public stigma and stereotyping around suicide and self-harm. In order to minimise the potential harm, safeguards will be built into the suicide monitoring system to ensure data are being used safely, responsibly and respectfully.

Social licence

To secure social licence, the suicide monitoring system will make sure the data is being used for the purpose of informing suicide and self-harm prevention. The benefits to the public from the use of the data in the suicide monitoring system should be communicated to the public to ensure continued social licence.   

Continuous improvement

The suicide monitoring system will facilitate continuous improvement of suicide and self-harm prevention reforms and activities nationally. Over time, the suicide monitoring system will help identify emerging trends in suicide and self-harm and contribute to evaluations of suicide prevention activities. To ensure it continues to achieve its purpose, the suicide monitoring system itself will be subject to continuous improvement.

Independency

The suicide monitoring system does not have a role in drawing speculative conclusions from the data about what is good or bad about current suicide and self-harm prevention activities. The suicide monitoring system will focus on reporting the data and communicating in a way that is accessible to inform others.

Transparency

To cultivate trust in the suicide monitoring system, data sources, data agreements, and system processes will be transparently communicated, wherever possible. This includes decisions that relate to how data are included into the system and any specific data limitations.

Person-centred

The suicide monitoring system has been established to improve outcomes for people affected by suicide or self-harm. People with various lived experience perspectives will be included in all aspects of the design, continuous improvement and evaluation of the suicide monitoring system.

Culturally capable

The suicide monitoring system will consider different cultural needs that may influence approaches to data inclusion, representation and access.