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J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2017 Jul 17:1-13. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2017.1342546. [Epub ahead of print]

Parental Self-Efficacy to Support Teens During a Suicidal Crisis and Future Adolescent Emergency Department Visits and Suicide Attempts.

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a Department of Psychiatry , University of Michigan.
b Department of Psychiatry and Department of Psychology , University of Michigan.
c Clinical Science in Child and Adolescent Psychology , Florida International University.


This study of adolescents seeking emergency department (ED) services and their parents examined parents' self-efficacy beliefs to engage in suicide prevention activities, whether these beliefs varied based on teens' characteristics, and the extent to which they were associated with adolescents' suicide-related outcomes. Participants included 162 adolescents (57% female, 81.5% Caucasian), ages 13-17, and their parents. At index visit, parents rated their self-efficacy to engage in suicide prevention activities and their expectations regarding their teen's future suicide risk. Adolescents' ED visits for suicide-related concerns and suicide attempts were assessed 4 months later. Parents endorsed high self-efficacy to engage in most suicide prevention activities. At the same time, they endorsed considerable doubt in being able to keep their child safe if the teen has thoughts of suicide and in their child not attempting suicide in the future. Parents whose teens experienced follow-up suicide-related outcomes endorsed, at clinically meaningful effect sizes, lower self-efficacy for recognizing suicide warning signs, for obtaining the teen's commitment to refrain from suicide, and for encouraging their teen to cope, as well as lower confidence that their teen will not attempt suicide; self-efficacy to recognize warning signs was at trend level. Despite endorsing high self-efficacy for the majority of suicide prevention activities, parents of high-risk teens expressed less confidence in their capacity to influence their teen's suicidal behavior, which could undermine parents' effort to implement these strategies. The relationship between parental self-efficacy and youth suicide-related outcomes points to its potential value in guiding clinical decision making and interventions.

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