Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 53, Issue 11, pp 1173–1184 | Cite as

Community pharmacists’ experiences and people at risk of suicide in Canada and Australia: a thematic analysis

  • Andrea L. MurphyEmail author
  • Randa Ataya
  • Dani Himmelman
  • Claire O’Reilly
  • Alan Rosen
  • Luis Salvador-Carulla
  • Ruth Martin-Misener
  • Fred Burge
  • Stanley Kutcher
  • David M. Gardner
Original Paper



To explore Canadian and Australian community pharmacists’ practice experiences in caring for people at risk of suicide.


We conducted a thematic analysis of 176 responses to an open-ended extension question in an online survey.


Four themes were identified and include referrals and triage, accessibility for confiding, emotional toll, and stigma. Subthemes included gatekeeping the medication supply, sole disclosure, planning for end of life, concerns of support people, assessing the validity of suicidality, gaps in the system, not directly asking, ill-equipped, resources in the pharmacy, relying on others to continue care, and attention seeking.


Community pharmacists are caring for patients at risk of suicide frequently, and often with patients seeking the help of pharmacists directly. Pharmacists engage in activities and actions that would be considered outside of the traditional dispensing roles and provide support and intervention to people at risk of suicide through collaboration and other mechanisms. Further research to determine appropriate education and training and postvention supports is required.


Suicide Pharmacists Medications Pharmaceutical services Mental disorders 



This study was funded by the Dalhousie Pharmacy Endowment Fund (DPEF). Funding supported all core activities of the study including survey development, deployment, sample recruitment, and analysis. RA received funding as a research trainee through the DPEF Grant. Funding from the Pharmacy Council of New South Wales supported the Australian component of the study. The initial meetings for ALM and DMG to collaborate with Australian colleagues to prepare the DPEF Grant proposal were supported by funding from the Drug Evaluation Alliance of Nova Scotia through sabbatical support for ALM and DMG. We would like to acknowledge Dr. Timothy F Chen and Ms. Stephanie Webster for the contributions to the successfully funded DPEF Grant and to Ms. Kirstie Smith with her assistance in manuscript formatting.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea L. Murphy
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Randa Ataya
    • 1
  • Dani Himmelman
    • 3
  • Claire O’Reilly
    • 4
  • Alan Rosen
    • 5
    • 6
  • Luis Salvador-Carulla
    • 7
  • Ruth Martin-Misener
    • 8
  • Fred Burge
    • 9
  • Stanley Kutcher
    • 2
    • 10
  • David M. Gardner
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.College of PharmacyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  3. 3.Schizophrenia Society of Nova ScotiaHalifaxCanada
  4. 4.School of PharmacyThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  5. 5.Brain and Mind CentreThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  6. 6.Illawarra Institute for Mental HealthUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  7. 7.Centre for Mental Health ResearchAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  8. 8.School of NursingDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  9. 9.Department of Family MedicineDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  10. 10.Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental HealthIWK Health CentreHalifaxCanada

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