The Effects of an Uncompleted Suicide Attempt: A Parent’s Perspective

Friday, 28 July 2017

Kendal Klein, BSN
School of Nursing, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, USA

The purpose of this study is to examine the needs of parents after their adolescent child makes a non-lethal suicide attempt. Suicide, the intentional act to end one’s own life, is the third leading cause of death in adolescents, after accidents and homicides. Although quite uncommon in children, the frequency of suicide drastically increases during adolescence. This is a serious issue. There are numerous risk factors that increase the risk for adolescent suicide. These factors include possessing a psychiatric illness, lack of coping skills, emotional turmoil, a distorted view of life, a previous suicide attempt, substance abuse, family factors, and more. One of the biggest problems surrounding suicide is that it is often considered a forbidden topic of discussion. Suicide is a touchy subject to communicate. Many individuals avoid bringing up the topic of suicide all-together, giving researchers a major obstacle. After a child’s non-successful suicide attempt, parents have many needs. Parents need to be able to effectively communicate these needs to a qualified professional. For example, these parents may live in fear that their child may make another attempt in the future.

The goal of this study is to obtain information on what issues are of most concern to parents after their child’s suicide attempt. Although there has been a lot of research about suicide and it’s underlying psychological problems, little research has been done on the needs of parents. Before this study was put into action, a pilot study was conducted. During the pilot study, the perspective of this topic was sought from mental health professionals in rural and suburban areas. Mental health professionals were asked to complete two rounds of survey questions. These questions targeted what is most important to parents following their child’s non-lethal suicide attempt as well as their needs. The pilot study revealed that the most important goal that all mental health experts agreed that is most important to parents after their child’s non-lethal suicide attempt is keeping them safe. The pilot study consisted of both qualitative and quantitative data and was obtained by primary sources (mental health professionals). Our future research involves dispersing similar survey questions out to actual parents of those adolescents who made a non-lethal suicide attempt. Before these questions were dispersed to parents, they were evaluated by two mental health experts who work with adolescents who have attempted suicide. Once these expects validate these questions, 5 potential parents will be chosen to answer them during a scheduled home visit. This survey is delivered on paper after informed consent is obtained from the parents. This is just another step in the pilot study. The qualitative data gathered in the study are the parent’s answers to open-ended survey questions. By studying the feelings and circumstances of parents, we could shed a light on suicide. The importance of this study is that it could assist in obtaining useful information that will, ultimately, help prevent youth suicide from occurring.