Help-Seeking in Suicidal Situations: Paramount and yet Challenging. Interactions between Significant Others of Suicidal Persons and Health Care Providers

J Clin Med. 2017 Feb 13;6(2):17. doi: 10.3390/jcm6020017.


Significant others are often crucial for suicidal persons or suicide attempters' access to care, yet little is known about their efforts to seek help. This article presents the findings of a qualitative pilot study carried out in Switzerland on the help-seeking process of 18 significant others, their perception of the care received by their loved one, and the interactions and collaboration they experienced with professionals. Most significant others repeatedly sought out support for their loved one and themselves. The help-seeking process seemed mostly difficult, was seldom successful on the first attempt, and was filled with multiple difficulties, such as availability and continuity of care and cooperation issues with professionals. Two-thirds of participants were not satisfied with the care provided to their loved ones and half of them faced challenges in their cooperation with professionals, i.e., poor sharing of information or not being acknowledged as partners or supported by professionals. Based on their experience, providing education about suicidal crises and care programs to significant others might lighten their burden and improve their cooperation with professionals, who in turn may benefit from training in communication issues and specific methods of cooperation with significant others in suicidal situations.

Keywords: care providers; communication; cooperation; help-seeking; informal carers; qualitative; significant others; suicidal person; suicide.