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Suicide prevention through social work intervention : a study examining the applicability of crisis intervention theory using an ethnographic approach

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Craig, Diane J (1996) Suicide prevention through social work intervention : a study examining the applicability of crisis intervention theory using an ethnographic approach. Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Suicide is a concept that is socially constructed in that the
intention of the deceased is inferred after the death has
occurred. The implication underlying the use of the term is
that such deaths are somehow problematic for society.
Society therefore defines a role for professionals in the
prevention of suicide. Psychologists, psychiatrists, general
practitioners and nurses have written extensively on the
subject and their role in the prevention of suicide is well
articulated. There is a dearth of social work literature on the
subject. Few studies that have researched the help-seeking
behaviour of suicidal people have included visits to social workers in them and little has been written about the extent
to which social workers encounter suicidal behaviour in
clients or about the action they take.
This is an exploratory study which seeks to establish the
extent to which social workers encounter suicidal behaviour
in clients, how they assess level of risk and what kind of
action they take to prevent suicide. The study aims to test
out predictions about social workers' responses based on
crisis intervention theory. A random sample of thirty
qualified social workers who are employed in the Launceston
area were interviewed. Social workers were found to lack
consensus about how highly suicidal behaviour ought to be
treated and differed in the action that they took to prevent it.

Social workers face a range of dilemmas about the extent to
which they believe they ought to intervene to prevent a death
by suicide. Just over half the sample (16 respondents) took
non-directive action in that they offered choices, explored
options or made suggestions and left the client to choose. The
remaining 14 social workers argued that suicidal thinking is a
process of constriction and this group intervened in a
directive way. They acted to make the client safe and applied
pressure to clients for consent for action to be taken.
Dilemmas about action were particularly pronounced when the
scenario involved a young adult or adolescent but action was
more likely to be directive than non-directive.
The beliefs that social workers held about suicide,
depression, mental illness and professional knowledge were
found to determine, to a great extent, their response to
clients deemed at high risk of suicide.
As a result of the findings of the study, explanations are
generated for the split in opinions across the sample. A
number of recommendations are made about the education of
social workers and their needs in working with highly suicidal
clients. Gaps that have been identified within the service
delivery network in Launceston are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Research Master)
Keywords: Crisis intervention (Mental health services), Suicide, Social workers
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1996 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.Soc.Sc.)--University of Tasmania, 1996. Includes bibliographical references (p. 170-179)

Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2014 00:00
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:55
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