153427 Coping with thoughts of suicide: Mental health consumers speak

Wednesday, November 7, 2007: 9:30 AM

Gary Haugland, MA , Nathan Kline Institute, Orangeburg, NY
Mary Jane Alexander, PhD , Nathan Kline Institute, Orangeburg, NY
Edward Knight, PhD , ValueOptions, Colorado Springs, CO
Peter Ashenden , Mental Health Empowerment Project, Albany, NY
Isaac Brown , Mental Health Empowerment Project, Albany, NY
Suicide is a devastating public health problem and research indicates that people with prior attempts are at the greatest risk to complete suicide (38 times the general population rate) followed by persons with depression (20 times), and other major mental and substance use disorders. Successful prevention strategies are sought at state and federal levels, but there has been little direct input from mental health consumers. This study, initiated and implemented by mental health consumers, sought to identify how individuals with severe mental illness (81% diagnosed with depression) and a history of suicidal behavior cope with suicidal thoughts. Participants in 14 regional consumer-run Recovery Dialogues in New York State (n=205) provided up to 5 strategies they use for dealing with suicidal thoughts which were classified using grounded theory. First responses (n=187) were analyzed separately from all responses (n=701). Predominant first responses included talking to someone, spirituality, positive thinking, considering consequences to family and friends, using peer supports, doing something pleasurable, protecting from means, and seeking mental health treatment. While a majority indicated that therapeutic supports were available, fewer than 5% indicated that they considered the mental health system as a first line strategy. Rather, relying on family, friends, peers and faith as sources of hope and support were more frequently noted. Reasons for this are discussed in the context of resources for recovery and support for persons living in the community.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe and prioritize coping strategies used by persons at highest risk of suicide 2. Identify the complementary roles of peer supports and the mental health system 3. Evaluate a method for eliciting and analyzing sensitive information from mental health consumers

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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