Community pharmacists are increasingly recognized as integral members in suicide prevention programs, as part of a multidisciplinary and multifaceted approach. However, further research is required to understand then optimize the whole pharmacy teams’ role across sectors.
To explore pharmacy teams’ experience of, and attitudes towards, suicide prevention in England.
A cross-sectional survey was purposively distributed to pharmacy staff in England before accessing an optional suicide awareness raising video, hosted by Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE), in September 2019–March 2021. Questions included demographics and experience of, attitudes towards, and preparedness for, suicide prevention. The 14-item Attitudes to Suicide Prevention (ASP) scale was used (possible range 14–70 with lower scores representing positive attitudes). Descriptive and comparative statistics were reported. Free-text comments were invited to explore respondents’ experience of suicide prevention and reflexive thematic analysis used.
Of 403 respondents, 82% were female; most were pharmacists (59%) or pharmacy technicians (21%), with the remainder having other roles. Eighty-five percent worked in community pharmacy. Eleven percent had prior suicide prevention training, and 71% reported interacting with at least one patient about suicide. Most often, suicidality was disclosed by the patient (40%), with 6% of pharmacy staff having directly asked a patient about suicidal behavior or plans. The aggregated ASP score was 31.51 (SD 6.23), and role did not affect experience or attitude. Pharmacy teams’ experiences of suicide prevention can be summarized by three major themes i) Exposure to suicide; ii) Responsibility for action; and iii) Access to means of suicide.
Pharmacy teams felt responsibility in caring for those at risk of suicide and had experience of this. Further training should include understanding of medicines means restriction and involve all roles and sectors of pharmacy. Pharmacy teams should be integrated into the ‘circle of care’ to access referral pathways.