Dr Scott Fitzpatrick

BA(Hons); PhD
Research Fellow
ANU College of Health and Medicine
T: +61 2 6125 6984

Areas of expertise

  • Public Health 4206
  • Social Determinants Of Health 420606
  • Mental Health Services 420313
  • Health Equity 420602

Research interests

  • Suicide
  • Sociology of health and illness
  • Mental health systems and policy
  • Applied Ethics
  • Service-user, carer, and community involvement in health and research
  • Rural health


Scott is a Research Fellow in the Lived Experience Research Unit at the Centre for Mental Health Research, The Australian National University. The Lived Experience Research Unit aims to increase the involvement of mental health service-users and carers in the research process and conduct research relevant to their needs.

Scott is an interdisciplinary scholar whose work is grounded in the sociology of health and illness, public mental health, and applied ethics. He holds a PhD in public health from the University of Sydney. His research uses both qualitative and mixed methods to examine the social and political determinants of mental health and suicide, mental health systems and policy, and lived experiences of mental health and suicide. Scott is especially interested in broadening contemporary ethical discussion of suicide and its prevention within the fields of research, clinical, and public health practice and policy by examining the intersection between knowledge, practice, ethics, and politics.

The interdisciplinary nature of Scott’s research is evidenced by publications in diverse top-ranked international journals including Social Science & Medicine, Public Health Ethics, Sociology of Health & Illness, Philosophy Psychiatry & Psychology, and Medical Journal of Australia.

Scott’s research has a strong focus on applicability to policy making and to clinical and public health practice. Working in close partnership with service users, health services, community managed organisations, and policy makers, Scott has exchanged and applied research evidence to enable health system transformation and improve health and social outcomes for people in metropolitan, regional, and rural Australia.

Researcher's projects

Co-creating safe spaces: Translational research on innovative alternatives to the emergency department for people experiencing emotional distress and/or suicidal crisis

Safe Spaces are an alternative to emergency departments for people experiencing emotional or suicidal distress. They provide a warm welcoming space where compassionate care is provided by peer workers with a lived experience of suicide in a non-clinical environment. To date, very little research has been conducted in Australia or globally to assess the effectiveness of non-clinical alternatives to emergency departments and hospital-based care for people experiencing suicidal crisis or distress. Using a mixed methods, co-designed study design, the project will determine the feasibility and effectiveness of safe space models as genuine alternatives for people experiencing suicidal crisis or distress who might usually present to the emergency department or choose not to access help due to past negative experiences. At present, there are several different safe space models being developed and trialled in Australia. In the current study we will compare six approaches across three Australian states and territories, which will provide valuable insight into the benefits of each of these models, potential challenges, and facilitators of effective practice.

Current student projects

Sarah Van Norden (PhD, University of Southern California, External Dissertation Committee Member): Connecting Perceptions of Place and Suicide in the US Intermountain West

Past student projects

Sophun Moch (PhD, The University of Newcastle, Supervisor): A Comparative Analysis of Psychosocial Approaches to the Prevention of Suicide in Australia. Awarded September 2022


Fitzpatrick S.J., Gallagher, K., Banfield, M., Gulliver, A., Calear, A.L., Conroy, S., Batterham, P.J. (2023). At arm's length: A qualitative study of suicide prevention barriers among those experienced with suicide loss. SSM - Qualitative Research in Health https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmqr.2023.100318

Fitzpatrick S. J., Lamb H., Stewart E., Gulliver A., Morse, A., Giugni M., Banfield M. (2023). Co-ideation and co-design in co-creation research: Reflections from the ‘Co-Creating Safe Spaces’ project. Health Expectations 1-8 doi:10.1111/hex.13785

Banfield M., Fitzpatrick S. J., Lamb H., Giugni M., Calear A. L., Stewart E., et al. (2022). Co-creating safe spaces: Study protocol for translational research on innovative alternatives to the emergency department for people experiencing emotional distress and/or suicidal crisis. PLOS ONE 17(10): e0272483 https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0272483

Fitzpatrick S. J., Brew B. K., Handley T. & Perkins D. (2022). Men, suicide and family and interpersonal violence: A mixed methods exploratory study. Sociology of Health & Illness. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.13476

Chandler A., Cover R., & Fitzpatrick S. J. (2022). Critical suicide studies: Between methodology and ethics. Health, 22(1), 3-9. https://doi.org/10.1177/13634593211061638177

Fitzpatrick S. J., Read D., Brew B. K., & Perkins D. (2021). A sociological autopsy lens on older adult suicide in rural Australia: Addressing health, psychosocial factors and care practices at the intersection of policies and institutions. Social Science & Medicine, 284: 114196 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.114196

Fitzpatrick, S. J. (2021). The moral and political economy of suicide prevention. Journal of Sociology, 58(1),113-129 https://doi.org/10.1177/14407833211001112 

Fitzpatrick S. J., Handley T., Powell N., Read D., Inder K. J., Perkins D., & Brew B. K. (2021). Suicide in regional and remote Australia: A retrospective study of mental health, help-seeking and service utilisation. PLOS ONE, 16(7):e0245271 https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0245271

Fitzpatrick, S. J. (2020). Epistemic justice and the struggle for critical suicide literacy. Social Epistemology, 34(6), 555-565 https://doi.org/10.1080/02691728.2020.1725921

Fitzpatrick, S. J., Brew, B. K., Read, D. M. Y., Inder, K., Hayes, A. & Perkins, D. (2019). Rethinking suicide in rural Australia: A study protocol for examining and applying knowledge of the social determinants to improve prevention in non-Indigenous populations. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(16), 2944 https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16162944

Fitzpatrick, S.J., Perkins, D., Handley, T., Luland, T., Brown, D., & Corvan, E. (2018). Coordinating mental and physical health care in rural Australia: An integrated model for primary care settings. International Journal of Integrated Care, 18(2): 1-9 http://doi.org/10.5334/ijic.3943

Fitzpatrick, S.J., & River, J. (2018). Beyond the medical model: Future directions for suicide intervention services. International Journal of Health Services, 48(1):189-203. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020731417716086

Fitzpatrick, S.J. (2018). Reshaping the ethics of suicide prevention: Responsibility, inequality, and action on the social determinants of suicide. Public Health Ethics, 11(2):179-190 https://doi.org/10.1093/phe/phx022

Fitzpatrick, S. J., & Hooker, C. (2017). A ‘systems’ approach to suicide prevention: Radical change or doing the same things better? Public Health Research & Practice, 27(2): e2721713. http://dx.doi.org/10.17061/phrp2721713

Fitzpatrick, S.J., Perkins, D., Luland, T., Brown, D., & Corvan, E. (2017). The effect of context in rural mental health care: Understanding integrated services in a small town. Health and Place, 45, 70-76 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2017.03.004

McKenzie, H., White, K., Hayes, L., Fitzpatrick, S., Cox, K., & River, J. (2017).‘Shadowing’ as a management strategy for chemotherapy outpatient primary support persons. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 31(4):887-894 https://doi.org/10.1111/scs.12410

Fitzpatrick, S. J. (2016). Ethical and political implications of the turn to stories in suicide prevention. Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychology, 23, (3/4):265-276 https://doi.org/10.1353/ppp.2016.0029

Fitzpatrick, S. J. (2016). Stories of suicide and social justice. Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychology, 23, (3/4):285-287 https://doi.org/10.1353/ppp.2016.0032

Fitzpatrick, S. J., Kerridge I. H., Jordens C. F. C., Zoloth, L., Tollefsen, C., Tsomo, K. L., Jensen, M., Sachedina, A., & Sarma, D. (2016). Religious perspectives on human suffering: Implications for medicine and bioethics. Journal of Religion and Health, 55(1):159-173. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-015-0014-9

Matthews, L. R., Fitzpatrick, S. J., Quinlan, M., Ngo, M., & Bohle, P. (2016). Bereaved families and the coronial response to traumatic workplace fatalities: Organisational perspectives. Death Studies, 40(3):191-200 doi: 10.1080/07481187.2015.1115787

Fitzpatrick, S. J. (2015). Scientism as a social response to the problem of suicide. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 12(4):613-622 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11673-015-9662-4 

Fitzpatrick, S. J., Hooker, C., & Kerridge, I. H. (2015). Suicidology as a social practice: A reply to Tom Widger. Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4 (4): 44-48 https://social-epistemology.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/fitzpatrick-_hooker_kerridge_reply_widger1.pdf

Fitzpatrick, S. J., Hooker, C., & Kerridge, I. H. (2015). Suicidology as a social practice. Social Epistemology, 29(3): 303-322 https://doi.org/10.1080/02691728.2014.895448

Quinlan, M., Fitzpatrick, S. J., Matthews, L. R., Ngo, M., & Bohle, P. (2015). Administering the cost of death: Organisational perspectives on workers’ compensation and common law claims following traumatic death at work in Australia. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 38: 8-17 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijlp.2015.01.002

Quinlan, M., Matthews, L. R., Bohle, P., & Fitzpatrick, S. (2015). Employer and union responses to traumatic death at work:  Evidence from Australia. New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations, 40(3): 1-23 http://www.nzjournal.org/NZJER40(3).pdf#page=2  

Fitzpatrick, S. J. (2014). Stories worth telling: Moral experiences of suicidal behavior. Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, 4(2): 147-160 https://doi.org/10.1353/nib.2014.0047

Matthews, L. R., Fitzpatrick, S. J., Quinlan, M., & Bohle, P. (2014). Investigation and prosecution following workplace fatalities: Responding to the needs of families. Economic and Labour Relations Review, 25(2):253-270 https://doi.org/10.1177/1035304614534350

Fitzpatrick, S. J. (2014). (Re)Moralizing the suicide debate. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 11(2):223-232 https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-014-9510-y

Fitzpatrick, S.J., Jordens, C.F.C., Kerridge, I.H., Keown, D., Walter, J.J., Nelson, P., Abdalla, M., Lehmann L. S., &  Sarma, D. (2014) Religious perspectives on the use of psychopharmacology as an enhancement technology. Journal of Religion and Health, 53(5): 1440:1455 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-013-9761-7

Fitzpatrick, S. J. & Kerridge, I. H. (2013). Challenges to a more open discussion of suicide. Medical Journal of Australia, 198(9): 470-471 https://doi.org/10.5694/mja12.11540

Fitzpatrick, S. J. (2012). The telling moment: Narrative as a discursive act.  AJOB: Neuroscience, 3(4): 80-81 https://doi.org/10.1080/21507740.2012.721452

Fitzpatrick, S. (2011). Looking beyond the qualitative and quantitative divide: Narrative, ethics and representation in suicidology. Suicidology Online, 2:29-37 http://www.suicidology-online.com/pdf/SOL-2011-2-29-37.pdf 

Fitzpatrick, S. (2010). Toward a narrative understanding of suicide. In E. Milligan & E. J. Woodley (Eds.), pp. 181-196. Confessions: Confounding narrative and ethics. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Study protocol for translational research on innovative alternatives to the emergency department for people experiencing emotional distress and/or suicidal crisis. PLoS ONE 17(10): e0272483. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0272483

Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  25 June 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers