Overview of the iBobbly trial
Using technology to save young indigenous lives
Suicide rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are amongst the highest in the world. Despite increased funding and implementation of new prevention programs, very few indigenous people will seek help before acting on suicidal thoughts.
iBobbly is a trial of the world’s first suicide prevention app designed especially for use by Indigenous people on mobile phones or tablet devices. Called iBobbly (a name derived from a Kimberley greeting), the app delivers treatment-based therapy in a culturally relevant way.
Based on psychological therapies proven to reduce suicidal thoughts, it draws heavily on Indigenous metaphors, images and stories drawn from local Aboriginal artists and performers. The app format leaps two of the major hurdles to help seeking – perceived stigma and geographical isolation. Once the app is downloaded they don’t need ongoing internet access and the program is password protected, thus maintaining confidentiality if the technology is shared amongst the community.
A pilot study conducted using Randomised Controlled Trial methodology has recently been conducted in the Kimberly, demonstrating with favourable results. A large-scale evaluation is currently being rolled out across several Australian states to determine effectiveness of the app in reducing suicidal thoughts.
iBobbly was developed in partnership with Alive and Kicking Goals Suicide Prevention Program (WA), HITnet Innovations, Thought works, Muru Marri Indigenous Health Unit UNSW, Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, Kimberley Aboriginal Community Members (WA), Men’s Outreach Service (WA), Aboriginal Artists – Martha Lee, Danica Manado and Esah Coffin, Nyamba Buru Yawuru Aboriginal Corporation, Rubibi (Broome, WA), Goolarri Media (WA), Dr Kathy McKay and BackTrack (NSW). Samsung generously donated 150 tablets for the trial.