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Death Anxiety and Counseling Skill in the Suicide Interventionist


  • The authors wish to express their appreciation to the staff and volunteers of the following crisis intervention agencies for their participation: Contact (Lincoln, NE), Personal Crisis Line (Lincoln, NE), and the Suicide and Crisis Intervention Service (Gainesville, FL).


ABSTRACT: In light of recent evidence that suicide intervention workers may experience greater fear of death than the general population, the present study examined the death anxiety of interventionists and its relation to skill in responding to suicidal clients. A sample of 109 suicide prevention workers from three independent crisis centers were administered the Death Anxiety Scale (Templer, 1970) and the Suicide Intervention Response Inventory (Neimeyer & MacInnes, 1981). Compared to 109 matched controls, the interventionists were found to have significantly lower death anxiety, thereby reversing the earlier finding. Moreover, no linear or curvilinear relationship between death anxiety and suicide counseling skill could be identified. Together, these results give some justification to the traditional neglect of death concern as a factor in screening or training crisis intervention personnel.

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