School social workers’ experiences with youth suicidal behavior: an exploratory study.
Singer, J.~~Slovak, K.
No published studies have explored school social workers (SSWs) experiences with, or beliefs and attitudes about, working with suicidal youths at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. The authors surveyed SSWs (N = 399) who were members of the 1 l-state Midwest Council on School Social Workers. Results indicated significant SSW involvement with suicidal youths: 88 percent of SSWs worked with suicidal youths in the past two years, and rates for SSWs at the high school level approached 100 percent. Most SSWs felt very confident and prepared to work with suicidal youths, were responsible for suicide assessments, expressed confidence identifying suicide risk factors and making appropriate referrals, and were highly knowledgeable on school suicide policy. Multivariate analysis of variance indicated no reported differences on perceived suicide knowledge and preparation among SSWs working in elementary, middle, and high schools. Consistent with recent research, SSWs reported low levels of receiving graduate-level training in working with suicidal youths. Implications include the need to address a perceived lack of suicide training in SSW graduate education and to further research on the experiences and preparation of SSWs at each school level. This exploratory study provides a baseline of information on SSWs and suicide.