The purpose of this presentation is to compare two studies that surveyed adolescent mental health experts practicing in a suburban and rural setting on their perspectives as to what matters most to parents after their child has made a non-lethal suicide attempt.
A Delphi technique was utilized with an interdisciplinary panel of adolescent mental health experts in a suburban and a rural mental health setting. Inclusion criteria for the expert panel were over the age of 18 and clinically worked with adolescents who have made a non-lethal suicide attempt and their families. First round questions asked the panelists to provide their opinions as to what matters most for parents whose child has made a non-lethal suicide attempt, what are the needs of parents whose child has made a non-lethal suicide attempt, and what are the current treatment interventions for parents whose child has made a non-lethal suicide attempt.
Using the constant comparative method, two researchers analyzed the data for emerging themes. The themes from each questions were then returned to the participants in a second survey. They were asked to rank the importance of each theme on a 5 point Likert scale (1, very important; 2, quite important; 3-neither important or unimportant; 4-quite unimportant; 5-very unimportant).
31 total participants from a suburban setting and 18 from the rural setting completed both rounds of the surveys. Professional titles of participants included registered nurse, clinical therapist, social worker, behavioral health associate, and advanced practice nurse.
Both groups indicated that keeping their child safe, understanding what caused the attempt, and how to access support was very important for parents after a non-lethal suicide attempt. Both groups also thought the most important need for parents is education on how to prevent another attempt. In regards to treatment interventions, both groups noted therapy (individual and family) and support groups; however, the rural providers emphasized the Screening, Assessment, and Support Services (SASS). From comparing these two groups of adolescent mental health providers, it was clear that rural providers highlighted the use of SASS as part of the treatment team. Rural providers also consistently cited the need for accessible resources and support. The provider mix of both groups included substantially fewer registered nurses in the rural group.
It is clear from the opinions of the adolescent mental health practitioners that safety of their child is a priority concern of parents after their child has made a non-lethal suicide attempt. This finding may indicate that professionals working with these parents must address the safety concerns before continuing with other therapeutic interventions. Data from both the studies will inform a qualitative research study utilizing focus groups with parents of adolescents who have made a non-lethal suicide attempt to uncover what issues are most important to them.