Suicide exposure in crisis workers
Long, M.M., Cerel, J., Aldrich, R.S., & Kheibari, A.
Background: Crisis workers provide services to individuals who are in acute distress. There is no research examining personal and occupational exposure to suicide in these workers. Aims: We aimed to examine the prevalence of personal, occupational, and colleague suicide exposure among crisis workers, the mental health outcomes associated with suicide exposures, and perceived professional preparedness for client suicide. Method: Crisis workers (n = 115) completed an online survey assessing suicide exposure, depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Results: Over a third of participants (33.9%, n = 37) reported that they had lost at least one client to suicide, with an average of 2.30 clients (SD = 4.47) lost to suicide. Over three quarters (77.1%, n = 81) of study participants reported they had experienced at least one personal loss to suicide. Those who perceived their relationship to the personal suicide as close or very close had significantly greater PTSD symptoms (M = 3.29, SD = 2.23) than those who perceived their relationship as not at all close, not close, or somewhat close (M = 1.38, SD = 1.69), t(20) = -2.10, p = .049. Limitations: Snowball sampling is the study’s main limitation. Conclusion: The current study demonstrates that a substantial percentage of crisis workers are exposed to suicide and additional research is needed to determine how exposures impact practice and personal symptoms in this population.