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School Psychologists’ Experiences with and Training in Suicide Assessment: Challenges in a Rural State

Abstract

Past research has shown that suicide rates for males and females are higher in rural than in urban areas. Because of the high incidence of suicide attempts and completion of youth in rural areas, it is critical that they receive mental health support within schools. Consequently, the current mixed-methods study surveyed school psychologists in Montana to obtain information about their involvement and training in suicide assessment and the related challenges they have encountered. Thirty-seven school psychologists participated in the study, with 47% serving schools in rural areas. Participants were recruited through the membership listserv of the Montana Association of School Psychologists (response rate of 27%) and through direct e-mail contact (response rate of 16%). Results indicated that only 17% of the participants take the lead in suicide risk assessments and 47% are involved in them less than five times a year, 93% of participants did not have a graduate class exclusively devoted to suicide assessment, and 58% received 10 or more hours of training in suicide assessment post-degree. Furthermore, qualitative thematic analyses, using NVivo software, yielded nine major categories of challenges in suicide assessment identified by school psychologists. Study limitations, future areas for research, and implications for school psychologists are also discussed.

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Correspondence to Jacqueline A. Brown.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Brown, J.A., Goforth, A.N. & Machek, G. School Psychologists’ Experiences with and Training in Suicide Assessment: Challenges in a Rural State. Contemp School Psychol 22, 195–206 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40688-017-0147-9

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Keywords

  • Suicide assessment
  • Suicide training
  • Rural
  • Challenges
  • School psychologist