In this section
Note: this is a past research project that is now complete.
The primary objective of this project, supported by an
NH&MRC Public Health (Australian) Fellowship, is to examine the
epidemiology of depression, suicide and suicidal behaviour in young
people and the scope for preventive intervention.
Recommendations from the National Health and Medical Research
Council suggest that the epidemiological study of adolescent
depression and related behaviours (such as youth suicide and
alcohol and drug use) should take precedent in Australian research.
Depressive symptoms become prominent in the transition period
between pre-puberty and mid adolescence and it is now clear that
first episodes of depression most commonly begin in young people.
Depression's common occurrence with other psychiatric disorders and
parallel trends linking adolescent depression, suicidal ideation
and attempts, poor outcomes such as school failure and the uptake
of unhealthy and socially damaging behaviours (such as alcohol and
substance use) have prompted questions about causality. Other
findings from retrospective and prospective clinical studies which
require clarification in an Australian context are the continuities
between adolescent psychopathology and later adult disorders or
poor health outcomes and the risk and protective factors which
influence progression or remission in behaviour and
Examining the distribution and strength of adolescent emotional
problems and research promoting clarification of the complexity of
the risk processes and the probable range of modifying influences
can help shape intervention programs, their timing and focus during
the period of adolescent development.
The Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study (VAHCS) provides a
reliable source of data which is being analysed to examine the
This information will be used to help inform the consideration of
strategies employed in the implementation of preventive
interventions to reduce rates of youth suicide and depression.
The Gatehouse Project is a randomised controlled trial of a
population based intervention program designed to prevent
adolescent depression and related problems. Baseline and follow-up
data has been collected from students in year 8, year 9 and year 10
(1997, 1998 & 1999) with intended follow-up occurring again in
the year 2000. The data collected from this project is being used
to examine associations between depression, deliberate self harm
and the social environments of young people.