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WA Suicide Prevention and Resilience Research Centre (SPARRC)

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About us

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Empowering Collaboration, Igniting Change

The demand for mental health services exceeds services ability to deliver, especially in WA where regional and rural communities who are often most in need are so dispersed.

The WA Suicide Prevention and Resilience Research Centre is designed to act as a central node within UWA to improve mental health research targeted at preventing suicide in Australia and worldwide. The centre brings together a diverse range of researchers and interest groups with a shared goal of improving mental health within WA, including world-renowned academics, psychologists, psychiatrists, allied health professionals and educators.

What we do 

The Centre supports innovative solutions to address some of the greatest mental health challenges in WA. We take a collaborative approach and work together with end-users and lived experience groups to best meet the needs of Australians. We work together with WA to meet its mental health needs through research outcomes achieved by:

  • Collaborating across diverse research groups,
  • Challenging “this is the way we’ve always done things” attitudes, and
  • Creating novel solutions to the key mental health issue of suicide

Illustrative projects

Development of a Vulnerability Index to Predict Adolescent Suicide

In a collaboration between Psychology and Mathematics Experts at UWA, and a local psychiatric hospital Perth Clinic, SPARRC successfully developed a world-first self-harm prediction algorithm. This algorithm uses machine learning to predict short-term risk of self-injury and alert clinical staff hospital-wide to facilitate early interventions. Our Centre has teamed with the University of Sheffield to develop a multi-site cross-cultural validation of our algorithm and expand the impact of the research project.

Reducing self-harm and suicidal behaviours in young people in Western Australia

This Stan Perron Foundation/Australian Research Council funded project is a collaboration with independent schools in WA to determine key markers for short-term risk of suicide and self-injury, and develop standardized, evidence-based responses to prevent incidents from occurring.

Building a Culturally Safe Mental Health System for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Young People

This project specifically focuses on understanding the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people (aged 0-18 years) and their families when engaging with mainstream mental health services across the Perth metropolitan area, in order to generate feasible and evidence-based approaches to improving cultural safety within the mental health system.

WA Country Football

COVID-19 impacted country football in a year like no other. The COVID-19 pandemic led to 10 of the 25 country leagues not playing. This led to a research project by SPARRC in partnership with the WA Country Football League. The results of the survey of more than 500 footballers were released recently in the Get Around Me report revealing a stark difference in the physical and mental health of those who played compared to those who didn’t.

MATES In Construction

Our expert team includes mental health professionals that work with MATES in Construction to best support the mental health of construction workers in WA and nationally. 

Pharmacogenomics - guided therapy for patients with mental illness - a WA study

Using pharmacogenomics, the study of how a person’s genetic make-up influences how they metabolise medication, this trial analysed whether pharmacogenomics-guided treatment is more effective than today’s widely adopted ‘trial and error’ approach.

Mental health of healthcare workers during COVID19 crisis

The peak of the COVID-19 pandemic had significant implications for healthcare workers’ mental health. This WA Government (JTSI and WA Chief Scientist) COVID-19 Grants funded research assessed the trajectories of psychological distress reported by healthcare workers in hospitals across WA, and identified which factors can hinder or improve workers’ wellbeing in the workplace.

Exploring Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration

Our research examined Dabrowski’s seminal work into positive disintegration’, which looks at how people respond to anxiety and psychological tension. This exploration was aimed at further informing the development of a vulnerability index to predict suicide.

Online for a healthy mind: promoting mental health the Health(y)way

This Healthway funded project is developing a 3-D animated gamified mental-health program incorporating Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM-I). It is designed to therapeutically alter unhelpful negative thought patterns/cognitive distortions, which are arguably the hallmarks of and causal in mental health disorders.

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Our UWA academic researchers

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