Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Ed. Specalist

Degree

Ed.S.

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Shannon M. Suldo, Ph.D.

Keywords

Crisis intervention, Preparation, Elementary school, Children, Suicide prevention

Abstract

While the manifestation of suicidal thoughts and/or behavior is more common among adolescents, children are capable of, and do experience, suicidal ideation as well as demonstrate suicidal behaviors. Suicide is the sixth leading cause of death among children aged 5-14 years (Center for Disease Control [CDC], 2008). However, children may not always be referred or brought to the attention of the school psychologist, as their threats may be considered immature and unfounded. The purpose of this study is to provide data that clarifies the need for the provision of suicide-related services for children in elementary school. An archival dataset of 226 National Association of School Psychologist (NASP) practitioners was analyzed. In regards to referrals for potentially suicidal youth, within a two year period, practitioners who served elementary schools received an average of 1.64 referrals, practitioners who served middle/junior high schools received 2.95 referrals, and practitioners at the high school level received 3.95 referrals. Within the same time period, practitioners who served elementary schools experienced an average of .05 completed suicides, middle/junior high school practitioners experienced .07 completed suicides, and practitioners at the high school level experienced .16 completed suicides.

Results indicated that overall, practitioners felt "moderately prepared" to provide suicide-related services to youth. School psychologists who predominantly served high schools perceived themselves to be significantly more prepared to engage in suicide-related roles than their elementary school colleagues. School psychologists who predominantly served middle/junior high schools were similar to their colleagues who served either elementary or high schools on three out of four professional roles. Implications for future research, training, and practice are discussed.

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