Year: 2019 Source: Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. (2019). Published online 9 September 2019. SIEC No: 20190815

Suicide attempt survivors represent a group at elevated suicide risk that may benefit from connection to mental health care services; however, little is known empirically regarding attempt survivors’ perspectives on their experiences with psychiatric services, including their insights into how these services can be improved. This mixed methods study aimed to examine attempt survivors’ experiences interfacing with mental health care services. Interview transcript data from 96 suicide attempt survivors (66.7% female) collected for the Live Through This suicide education advocacy project were coded and analyzed to address study aims. Analyses included both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Most attempt survivors (93.7%) reported engaging with mental health care services. Treatment-related factors (e.g., effective medications, therapy offering a new perspective) and positive social support were the most commonly reported factors that contributed to positive experiences with care. The most commonly reported factors that led to negative experiences in care were treatment related (e.g., medication problems), provider related (e.g., inadequate assessment, stigma), and infrastructure related (e.g., lack of access to care, loss of autonomy during involuntary hospitalization). The majority of participants did not offer suggestions for improving treatment, but of the 34 who did, the most common suggestion was to connect attempt survivors to others with lived experience. Findings indicate that for some attempt survivors, traditional evidence-based interventions may be perceived as helpful; findings also highlight factors that may negatively impact care received by attempt survivors. Additional research is needed to systematically identify how experiences with psychiatric services might be improved for suicide attempt survivors.