Suicide has immediate and long-term negative effects on surviving family members and adverse effects in the school and community. Suicide rates for children and adolescents have increased in the United States since 2009. As part of suicide prevention efforts, information about risk factors and warning signs are typically addressed in schools, private organizations, and communities. In addition to academic literature for professional audiences, various therapeutic resources are available to assist those who grieve the suicide of a loved one. In particular, practical and easy-to-implement interventions are needed by those who offer support to suicidal individuals and survivors of suicide. Practical resources are needed to address suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention needs. This study is based on a questionnaire that was given to 250 registered individuals at an annual state suicide prevention training conference. Of those attending, 60 (24%) completed the questionnaire. Participants who did not have experience working with suicidal youth did not participate, so the actual participation rate was influenced by this factor. Questions explored the recommendations of mental health professionals (N=60) who worked with (a) suicidal youth, (b) siblings of youth who completed suicide, and/or (c) youth whose parent completed suicide. More specifically this study investigated specific strategies and resources for working with these three specific groups of survivors. Findings from this study indicated that mental health professionals recommend a variety of suicide prevention resources and strategies such as implementing evidenced-based prevention programs, accessing community resources, offering individual and group counseling for survivors, involving or creating support systems, and listening to the affected youth. Also, recommended therapeutic approaches should include an action plan where students are able to receive appropriate mental health services. Based on this study, mental health professionals may be more effective as they acquaint themselves with available resources such as counselors, school psychologists, and community services to comprehensively care for struggling individuals. Mental health professionals, educators, and staff members should obtain relevant information and utilize effective intervention models in order to better address the prevention, intervention, and postvention needs of surviving individuals.Recommendations are made for future research in identifying the combination of resources that are most helpful. Recommendations are also made regarding specific content and training strategies to more effectively prepare and equip professionals to engage more fully in effective and supportive suicide prevention efforts.
College and Department
David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Stillman, Amy Paskett, "Utah Mental Health Professionals' Recommendations for Working with Youth at Risk for Suicide" (2016). All Theses and Dissertations. 6081.
youth suicide, suicidal ideation, suicide survivors, suicide prevention, suicide intervention, suicide postvention, parent suicide, sibling suicide