Never the Twain? Reconciling National Suicide Prevention Strategies with the Practice, Educational, and Policy Needs of Mental Health Nurses (Part One)

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Suicide remains as a distinct global public health problem, and the reduction of rates continues to be a major concern of the governments of many countries; this has given rise to the creation of national suicide prevention strategies. As with any other mental health-related policy document, it behooves mental health nurses to juxtapose these against the realities of their practice and educational needs. To this end, this two part paper draws on national suicide prevention strategy policy directions that appear to speak directly to the practice and/or educational needs of mental health nurses and critiques these. The direction indicating more training in risk assessment is perhaps questionable given that this is already by far the most developed area of the suicidology-focused literature and that our increased knowledge has risk factors that have not so far produced widespread reductions in suicide rates. Furthermore, this additional attention, at least in part, reflects the clear move towards more coercion and control in international mental health policy. The direction indicating that practitioners should use evidence-based interventions to prevent suicide is laudable although difficult to reconcile with practice realities given that there is currently a distinct lack of evidence-based interventions for working with people who are suicidal. As a result, this paper offers some suggested amendments to the national suicide prevention strategies, and the second part of this paper focuses on three more policy directions.


To acquire a personal use copy of this work, contact John Cutcliffe at john.cutcliffe@wright.edu.



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