Year: 2021 Source: Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. (2021). Published online 24 June 2021. doi: 10.1037/tra0001054 SIEC No: 20210536

Objective: Research shows elevated rates of trauma exposure and traumatic stress among youth with suicidal thoughts and behaviors, underscoring the need for a trauma-informed approach to suicide prevention and intervention. The purpose of this study was to identify, from the perspective of caregivers, clinical practices that are sensitive to the needs of youth with co-occurring traumatic stress and suicidal thoughts and behaviors, as well as common barriers to receiving care.

Method: Qualitative interviews were conducted with 13 caregivers of youth with trauma histories and comorbid suicidal thoughts and/or behaviors. Interviews were analyzed using a grounded theory approach.

Results: Qualitative analysis of interviews revealed themes related to the need for caregiver involvement in treatment, the impact of therapist and relationship characteristics such as authenticity and genuineness, and the importance of provider education about trauma. Common barriers included difficulties navigating the mental health system and cost.

Conclusions: Findings provide guidance on how mental health providers can effectively recognize and respond to traumatic stress among youth presenting with suicidal thoughts and behaviors. System-level issues related to accessibility also are discussed.