First of its kind study looking at the levels of depression, anxiety, stress and suicidal ideation among ReachOut.com users

  • Project dates: 2017
  • Grants and funding: Rotary

The Centre for Applied Social Research (CASR) is collaborating with researchers at the University of Wollongong, University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney on a first-of-its kind study looking at the levels of depression, anxiety, stress and suicidal ideation among ReachOut.com users. ReachOut.com is Australia’s leading online mental health information source for young people, providing a gateway to getting help for mental health issues and services.

The team is examining the online habits of 1,500 young people who used ReachOut.com over a 12-month time period.

Preliminary data has found that, at baseline, 56 per cent of young people aged between 16 and 25 accessing ReachOut.com for the first time reported severe to extremely severe depression symptoms.

50 per cent reported severe to extremely severe anxiety symptoms and 37 per cent reported severe to extremely severe stress symptoms.

28 per cent reported severe suicidal ideation and the proportion of those with severe levels of suicidal ideation who hadn’t yet talked to anyone about their thoughts was significantly higher than those reporting lower levels of suicide risk.

An important project within the larger study has attracted Rotary Mental Health funding for PhD student, Sarah Furlong under the supervision of Dr Coralie Wilson (UOW) and Professor Stuart Thomas (CASR). Sarah’s PhD aims to refine models of how suicidal behaviour develops among young people with different levels and types of suicidal ideation. Results from the PhD will be used to inform national and regional intervention programs that are run by ReachOut to improve parent, teacher and gatekeeper’s capacity for identifying and supporting suicidal young people. Sarah’s research will also be used to inform national and international suicide prevention policy and procedures.

Preliminary work that will lead to the development of a comprehensive model was recently published in the international Encyclopedia of Adolescence (Wilson, Thomas and Furlong).

Key People

Lead researcher

Professor Stuart Thomas

Professor Stuart Thomas

Director, Centre for Applied Social Research

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