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Attitudes towards suicide among nurses and doctors working with children and young people who self-harm


  • M. ANDERSON phd msc ba(hons) rn(mental health) dip he,

    Corresponding author
    1. Associate Professor in Mental Health, School of Nursing, and
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  • P. J. STANDEN phd bsc cpsychol

    1. Professor in Health Psychology and Learning Disabilities, School of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK
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M. Anderson
School of Nursing
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
University of Nottingham
Room B50
B Floor
Queen's Medical Centre
Nottingham NG7 2UH


This paper presents a study investigating the attitudes towards suicide in nurses and doctors who work with children and young people who self-harm. The effect of basic demographic factors on attitudes towards suicide in the staff group is explored. The Suicide Opinion Questionnaire was implemented to collect data on attitudes towards suicide. A 5-point Likert Scale was used to score responses and attitudes were measured on eight clinical scales. Participants were 179 nurses and doctors working in three clinical areas: accident and emergency; paediatric medicine and adolescent inpatient mental health services. Nurses and doctors indicated agreement on the Mental Illness, Cry for Help, Right to Die, Impulsivity, Normality and Aggression scales, and less agreement on the Religion and Moral Evil scale. Only the scores for Mental Illness were statistically different in relation to professional group. There were no other significant differences on the other clinical scales in relation to gender, age clinical speciality and length of experience in current post. It is argued that complex attitudes need to be taken into account in training for healthcare professionals and in the development of contemporary suicide prevention policy.