• attitudes;
  • attempted suicide;
  • suicide risk;
  • nursing;
  • psychiatry

The aim of this study was to examine the attitudes towards suicidal patients of a group of psychiatric nursing personnel (n=197) and to establish a baseline of attitudinal measures against which the effects of a subsequent educational programme can be assessed. A scale, known as the Understanding of Suicide Attempt Patient Scale (USP Scale) was developed for this purpose. The reliability of the scale was satisfactory, and its correlation with visual analogue scale (VAS) scores based on clinical vignettes suggests that it has validity. Women tended to be more sympathetic than men, and older personnel were more favourably disposed than the younger nurses. Differences between personnel working in different settings were found, which might be explained by differences in the frequency of contact with suicide-prone patients, more frequent exposure being associated with more positive attitudes.