Every year around 800 000 people die by suicide and about 16 million attempt to end their lives. Almost 90% of people who die by suicide are in contact with their GP in the year before their death providing opportunities for suicide prevention. So, if so many people are going to their GP seeking support for suicidal thoughts and feelings, why do so many go on to die by suicide?
Although contact with GPs in the time leading up to suicide is common, and GPs do often ask questions to screen for suicidality, the inadequacies of the tools used to assess risk of suicide and the GPs lack of training in and awareness of suicide prevention guidance present barriers to successfully supporting patients. In addition to this, currently available research focusses more on the healthcare professional’s perspective of the process of assessing risk of suicide leading to an absence of the patient perspective in the literature. The scarcity of patient perspectives in suicide risk assessment research suggests an absence of patient orientated measures, context, and factors such as for social inequalities.
Suicide is a recognised public health problem and patient experiences of discussing suicide with general practitioners is an under researched area. Considering the frequency with which people experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings contact their general practice services, this is an area that needs exploring to increase the opportunity for intervention and to develop clear understanding of what the process is for the patient and how it can be improved.
The focus of my PhD is to explore the experiences of being assessed for risk of suicide. I am currently recruiting for a project in which I will conduct interviews with people who have experience of being assessed for risk of suicide by a GP to gain an understanding of this process from the patient’s perspective. The project was developed in collaboration with Expert Citizens as lived experience representatives to ensure the aims of the research kept in line with the interests of real people’s experiences.
If you would like to take part in this research or would like more information, then please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.