Open Access Study protocol

Study protocol: the development of a randomised controlled trial testing a postcard intervention designed to reduce suicide risk among young help-seekers

Jo Robinson*, Sarah Hetrick, Sara Gook, Elizabeth Cosgrave, Hok Pan Yuen, Patrick McGorry and Alison Yung

Author Affiliations

ORYGEN Youth Health Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne Locked Bag 10, 35 Poplar Road, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia

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BMC Psychiatry 2009, 9:59  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-9-59

Published: 23 September 2009



Suicidal behaviour and deliberate self harm are common among adolescents. Limited evidence exists regarding interventions that can reduce risk; however research indicates that maintaining contact either via letter or postcard with at-risk adults following discharge from services can reduce risk. The aim of the study is to test a postcard intervention among people aged 15-24 who presented to mental health services but are not accepted, yet are at risk of suicide.


The study is a 3-year randomised controlled trial conducted at Orygen Youth Health Research Centre in Melbourne Australia. Participants are young help-seekers aged 15-24 who are at risk of suicide. Participants will be recruited over a 12 month period. The intervention comprises a regular postcard to be sent monthly for 12 months. The postcard enquires after their well being and includes information regarding individual sources of help and evidence-based self help strategies. Participants are assessed at baseline, 12 and 18 months.


This paper describes the development of a study which aims to reduce suicide risk in a sample of young help-seekers. If effective, this intervention could have significant clinical and research implications for a population who can be hard to treat and difficult to research.

Trial Registration

The study was registered with the Australian Clinical Trials Registry; number: ACTRN012606000274572.