Assessing the social validity of a multi-modal school-based suicide prevention intervention: A scoping study
Ashworth, E., Thompson J., York, S., Henderson, K., Jalota, M.P., Shelton, J., ... & Saini, P.
Aims: This scoping study aimed to interview school staff, secondary school students, parents, and mental health professionals in Merseyside to determine the social validity of the MAPSS programme, and to identify any necessary adaptations that should be made before it can be trialled, initially in Northwest England, and eventually in the whole of the UK. More generally, the study also aimed to examine the need for and potential benefits of a school-based suicide prevention programme and investigate how this could be implemented. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with mental health professionals (N=8), school staff (N=8), and parents whose children had experienced suicidal ideation/behaviours (N=3). Focus groups were completed with CYP (N=27) in Years 10-13 (aged 15-18) across three state secondary schools in Merseyside, UK. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Four themes were identified: 1) the need for and importance of suicide prevention in schools, 2) raising awareness and reducing stigma, 3) the need for suicide prevention training for everyone who supports young people, and 4) delivering universal and targeted interventions. A number of subthemes were also identified. Conclusion: Overall, participants overwhelmingly agreed that there is a need for a greater and more consistent emphasis on school-based suicide prevention, as a number of CYP are at risk of suicide but there is not enough accessible support available. School appears to be an acceptable location for suicide prevention, and participants felt discussions about suicide should begin at the start of secondary school. However, there are potential barriers that need to be considered before a universal suicide prevention intervention can be delivered effectively, including neurodiversity and disability, cultural and family beliefs, stigma, lack of existing training for school staff, and personal experiences of suicidal thoughts or previous bereavement from suicide.