Project Title

Understanding user-experience of a novel digital intervention for young people experiencing suicidal thoughts and behaviours

Project Type



Research interests of the research team offering the project

The Orygen Digital research program believes that all young people and families have the right to effective mental health care, without limits. Orygen Digital’s mission is to make all youth mental health services in Australia digitally enhanced within five years. Orygen Digital strives to achieve this through new methods and ways of working that harness technology, science and creativity to transform mental health care as we know it.

This project in particular provides an opportunity for the PhD candidate to be involved in a National Health and Medical Research Council-funded (NHMRC) randomised controlled trial (RCT) in youth suicide prevention that utilises Orygen Digital’s MOST platform.

Details of the project

The PhD candidate will be embedded within Associate Professor Simon Rice’s NHMRC-funded Affinity RCT. The Affinity RCT’s primary aim is to reduce suicidal thoughts and behaviours in young people aged 15–25 years with depressive symptomology. The intervention components are informed by the field-leading interpersonal theory of suicide (ITS), and the trial represents an opportunity to both validate and expand upon the theory, as well as support the delivery of the intervention. The PhD candidate will conduct a systematic review of theoretically relevant interventions, and undertake novel qualitative research with young people regarding their experience of burdensomeness and belongingness. The PhD candidate will also undertake validation of two recently-developed psychometric scales in a clinically relevant population, for the first time.

Project references

  1. Bailey E, Alvarez-Jimenez M, Robinson J, D’Alfonso S, Nedeljkovic M, Davey CG, Bendall S, Gilbertson T, Phillips J, Bloom L, Nicholls L. An enhanced social networking intervention for young people with active suicidal ideation: safety, feasibility and acceptability outcomes. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020 Jan;17(7):2435.
  2. Bailey E, Rice S, Robinson J, Nedeljkovic M, Alvarez-Jimenez M. Theoretical and empirical foundations of a novel online social networking intervention for youth suicide prevention: A conceptual review. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2018 Oct 1;238:499-505.
  3. Bailey E, Robinson J, Alvarez-Jimenez M, Nedeljkovic M, Valentine L, Bendall S, D'Alfonso S, Gilbertson T, McKechnie B, Rice S. Moderated online social therapy for young people with active suicidal ideation: qualitative study. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2021 Apr 5;23(4):e24260.

Scholarships and fees

A stipend is not available for this PhD project.

Scholarships are available through the University of Melbourne – find out more here. Other scholarship opportunities may also be available but are highly competitive, so please speak to the contact person below for further details.

Information on fees for domestic and international students is available here.

How to apply

  1. Read information for future students here and check your eligibility here.
  2. Read our frequently asked questions here.
  3. Liaise with, and gain the support of, the supervisor/s. Please contact them using the details below and attach a copy of your CV and university transcript(s). 
  4. Once you’ve gained supervisor support, follow the steps outlined by the University of Melbourne here. You can go straight to Step 3. 

You are strongly encouraged to submit your application as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.


Associate Professor Simon Rice
[email protected]