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Soc Work. 2008 Jul;53(3):211-21.

Available supports and coping behaviors of mental health social workers following fatal and nonfatal client suicidal behavior.

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School of Social Work, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 21250, USA.


Research indicates that mental health social workers risk being confronted with fatal and nonfatal client suicidal behaviors during professional practice. Although reactions to client suicidal behavior have been documented, there is little empirical evidence about coping behaviors and available supports following client suicidal behavior. This study explores types of supports available, perceived effectiveness of support resources, and coping behaviors of 285 mental health social workers who experienced either fatal or nonfatal client suicidal behavior. Factors predicting positive and negative coping were also explored. Predictors of positive coping included increased levels of secondary traumatic stress, the availability of family and friends, group therapy, religion, older age, and male gender. Predictors of negative coping were increased levels of secondary traumatic stress, male gender, having support from family and friends, and the lack of administrative support. Future research recommendations and implications for social work administrators and practitioners are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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