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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 1999 Jun;33(3):361-71.

The response of healthcare services to people at risk of suicide: a qualitative study.

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Health Outcomes Council, Royal South Sydney Hospital, Australia.



This paper describes a small qualitative research study conducted in the area of suicide. Family and close friends of 15 young people who lived in Sydney, New South Wales, prior to their suicide, between 1990 and 1995, were interviewed to elicit their perceptions of the healthcare support given to the suicidees prior to their death.


Content analysis of in-depth interview transcripts identifying common themes in the description of the participants' experiences and impressions was carried out. A recurring theme was their call for more proactive management and support programs for people at risk of suicide, as well as education and support for close family and friends.


Participants claimed that they believed there were inadequate supports in place, that information and education were uncoordinated and sparse, and that healthcare workers were not effective in preventing suicide attempts because they lacked adequate diagnostic and management skills and displayed poor attitudes towards suicidees.


Experiences of care received and suggestions for improving them by people closely associated with suicide, provide healthcare staff with important information about the types of information, education and support that those at risk of suicide and their loved ones require at a time of crisis.

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