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Attitudes of psychologists and nurses toward suicide and suicide prevention in Ghana: a qualitative study

Attitudes of psychologists and nurses toward suicide and suicide prevention in Ghana: a qualitative study

International Journal of Nursing Studies 49(6): 691-700

One way of preventing suicide has been increasing awareness among health care professionals of their own attitudes and taboos toward suicide and its prevention. The purpose of this study was to understand the attitudes of health professionals toward suicidal behavior and its prevention in Ghana. A total of 17 informants (9 clinical psychologists and 8 emergency ward nurses) in an urban center were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to analyze the data. We found that the attitudes of these health workers toward suicide and suicide prevention seemed to be transiting between morality and mental health. The psychologists generally saw suicide as a mental health issue, emphasized a caring and empathic view of suicidal persons and approached suicide prevention from a health-service point of view. Mental health education and improvements in primary health care were reported as practical approaches toward suicide prevention. The nurses on the other hand, held a moralistic attitude toward suicide as a crime, viewed suicide persons as blameworthy and approached suicide prevention from a proscriptive perspective. Informal approaches such as talking to people, strengthening the legal code against suicide and threatening suicidal persons with the religious consequences of the act were also indicated as practical approaches to suicide prevention. Educational level, clinical experience with suicidal persons, and religious values, are discussed as influencing the differences in attitudes toward suicide and suicide prevention between psychologists and nurses. Health workers in Ghana need training in suicidology to improve both knowledge and skills relevant for suicide prevention.

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Accession: 036291952

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PMID: 22177569

DOI: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2011.11.010

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