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Journal Article


Gilmour L, Ring N, Maxwell M. Child Adolesc. Ment. Health 2019; 24(3): 217-229.


(Copyright © 2019, John Wiley and Sons)






Background Suicide is amongst the leading causes of death in young people globally and a health priority worldwide. For children and young people (CYP) attempting or considering suicide there is no agreed treatment model. Development of treatment models should be informed by the views and experiences of CYP using services.

METHODS Meta-ethnography was used to systematically identify and synthesise studies reporting the views of CYP who used mental health services following suicidal behaviour. Relevant studies were quality appraised. First order (participants) and second order (original author) data were translated to identify common and disconfirming themes and concepts. Translated findings were synthesised and led to a new hypothesis supported by additional 'linguistic analysis' of texts to construct a novel third order line-of-argument.

RESULTS Four studies conducted since 2006 in three countries involving 44 young people aged 11-24 years were synthesised. Translation revealed that suicidal CYP do not know where or how to access help, they cannot access help directly and when seen by mental health practitioners they do not feel listened to. Line-of-argument synthesis identified a silence around suicidality within the conversations CYP have with mental health practitioners and within academic research reporting. Use of the term 'self-harm' to encompass suicidal behaviours potentially contributes to this silence by avoiding the word 'suicide'.

CONCLUSIONS Children and young people who are suicidal need to have easy access to mental health services. When using services, they want to feel listened to and have suicidal feelings acknowledged. This involves professionals referring explicitly to suicide not just self-harm.

Language: en


adolescent; Child; meta-ethnography; qualitative; suicide; synthesis


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