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PSME449 Introduction to Suicidology and Suicide Prevention

A broad introduction to the complex issue of suicide and approaches to suicide prevention for a range of students and professional groups.

A broad introduction to the complex issue of suicide and approaches to suicide prevention including: its history and epidemiology, theoretical frameworks and explanatory models, diverse cultural and disciplinary perspectives, possible aetiology of suicide with a focus on micro and macro factors, evidence based strategies for suicide prevention, suicide research methods and critical suicide studies.

This distance paper addresses the core themes of suicidology and suicide prevention with an emphasis on developing critical thinking in relation to the current evidence base. This paper is designed for a broad range of students across sectors including those working in the mental health sector as well as those working more widely in government agencies who wish to increase their knowledge base, critical thinking and research skills in relation to suicide and its prevention.

Paper title Introduction to Suicidology and Suicide Prevention
Paper code PSME449
Subject Psychological Medicine
EFTS 0.25
Points 30 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,018.75
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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PSME 429
Limited to
PGCertHealSc, PGDipHealSc, MHealSc
This is not a clinical skills paper and will not equip you with specific skills in suicide prevention.
Students who have completed an undergraduate degree in any discipline or recognised equivalent.

Department of Psychological Medicine, Wellington Campus

Teaching staff

Dr Sarah McKenzie will be leading this paper with input from other researchers and experts in the field.

Paper Structure

This paper aims to increase knowledge around a number of core topics including: the history and epidemiology of suicidal behaviours, ambiguities around definitions and data collection, different theoretical frameworks and models, the possible aetiology of suicide at the individual, community and societal levels, quantitative and qualitative research approaches relating to suicide, the development of suicide prevention and an understanding of evidence based strategies.

The paper will be internally assessed with 4 assignments.

Teaching Arrangements

Distance taught online with weekly or fortnightly Zoom conferences.


A variety of general texts and journals relevant to the paper will be available via the library

Graduate Attributes Emphasised

Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Information Literacy, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.

Learning Outcomes

After successfully completing this paper you will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the phenomena of suicide and suicidal behaviours as they relate to individuals, communities and populations.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of theoretical, historical, cultural and social frameworks as they relate to suicide and suicidal behaviours.
  3. Describe and be familiar with research approaches relating to suicide, and their strengths and limitations from a range of perspectives.
  4. Demonstrate an appreciation of the nature of discourse and contemporary issues within suicide prevention.
  5. Critically evaluate suicide prevention initiatives/activities as they relate to individuals, communities and population groups.

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system