Year: 2018 Source: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. (2018), 15(2): 235; doi:10.3390/ijerph15020235 SIEC No: 20180253

Signs of suicide are commonly used in suicide intervention training to assist the identification of those at imminent risk for suicide. Signs of suicide may be particularly important to telephone crisis-line workers (TCWs), who have little background information to identify the presence of suicidality if the caller is unable or unwilling to express suicidal intent. Although signs of suicide are argued to be only meaningful as a pattern, there is a paucity of research that has examined whether TCWs use patterns of signs to decide whether a caller might be suicidal, and whether these are influenced by caller characteristics such as gender. The current study explored both possibilities. Data were collected using an online self-report survey in a Australian sample of 137 TCWs. Exploratory factor analysis uncovered three patterns of suicide signs that TCWs may use to identify if a caller might be at risk for suicide (mood, hopelessness, and anger), which were qualitatively different for male and female callers. These findings suggest that TCWs may recognise specific patterns of signs to identify suicide risk, which appear to be influenced to some extent by the callers’ inferred gender. Implications for the training of telephone crisis workers and others including mental-health and medical professionals, as well as and future research in suicide prevention are discussed.