The burden of living with and caring for a suicidal family member

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The family has a primary role in caring for family members who are suicidal and in the prevention of future suicide. However, the impact that suicidal behaviour has on these family members is poorly understood. Aim: To explore the lived experiences of participants who cared for suicidal family members.Method: Eighteen participants were interviewed using a short topic guide. Responses were digitally recorded and transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis.Results: One overarching theme: 'Hard work for the whole family' and four sub themes: i) Family burden, ii) competing pressures, iii) secrecy and shame and iv) helplessness and guilt. Conclusions: Caring for a suicidal family member may be euphemistically summarised as ‘hard work’ that impacts heavily on the day to day tasks of other family members. Participants spent much time worrying and ruminating about the risk of suicide in their family member. Mental health care professionals ought to acknowledge and address the impact that suicidal behaviour has on family carers.
LanguageEnglish
Pages236-240
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Volume23
Issue number5
Early online date2 Jul 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014

Fingerprint

Suicide
Shame
Guilt
Confidentiality
Caregivers
Mental Health
Delivery of Health Care
Pressure

Keywords

  • Suicide
  • suicidal behaviour
  • mental health
  • impact
  • burden on family members
  • informal carers.

Cite this

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title = "The burden of living with and caring for a suicidal family member",
abstract = "Background: The family has a primary role in caring for family members who are suicidal and in the prevention of future suicide. However, the impact that suicidal behaviour has on these family members is poorly understood. Aim: To explore the lived experiences of participants who cared for suicidal family members.Method: Eighteen participants were interviewed using a short topic guide. Responses were digitally recorded and transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis.Results: One overarching theme: 'Hard work for the whole family' and four sub themes: i) Family burden, ii) competing pressures, iii) secrecy and shame and iv) helplessness and guilt. Conclusions: Caring for a suicidal family member may be euphemistically summarised as ‘hard work’ that impacts heavily on the day to day tasks of other family members. Participants spent much time worrying and ruminating about the risk of suicide in their family member. Mental health care professionals ought to acknowledge and address the impact that suicidal behaviour has on family carers.",
keywords = "Suicide, suicidal behaviour, mental health, impact, burden on family members, informal carers.",
author = "Columba McLaughlin and Iain McGowan and Siobhan O'Neill and George Kernohan",
note = "There was no conflict of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the contents of this article. Reference text: Byrne, S. Morgan, S, Fitzpatrick, C., Boylan, C., Crowley, S., Gahan, H., Howley, J., Staunton, D., & Guerin, S. (2008). Deliberate self-harm in children and adolescents: A qualitative study exploring the needs of parents and carers. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 13(4), 493-504. Daly, P. (2005). Mothers living with suicidal adolescents: A phenomenological study of their experiences. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing, 33 (3), 22-28. Denzin, N. & Lincoln, Y. (2000). ‘The discipline and practice of qualitative research’. In N. Denzin and Y. Lincoln (eds), Handbook of Qualitative Research (2nd Edn), Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1-28. Kitchener, B. & Jorm, A. (2002). Mental health first aid program. University of Melbourne: ORYGEN Research Centre. Maris, R., Berman, A. & Silverman, M. (2000). Comprehensive textbook of suicidology. New York: The Guilford Press. Newall, R. & Burnard, P. (2006). Vital notes for nurses: Research for evidence-based practice. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Owens, C., Owen, G., Belam, J., Lloyd, K., Rapport, F., Donovan, J., & Lambert, H. (2011). Recognising and responding to suicidal crisis within family and social networks: qualitative study. British Medical Journal, 343: d5801. Raphael, H., Clarke, G., & Kumar, S. (2006). Exploring parents’ responses to their child’s deliberate self-harm. Health Education, 106(1), 9-20. Tadros, G. & Jolley, D. (2001). The stigma of suicide. British Journal of Psychiatry, 179: 178 doi: 10.1192/bjp.179.2.178 (Accessed 27th July 2013).",
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The burden of living with and caring for a suicidal family member. / McLaughlin, Columba; McGowan, Iain; O'Neill, Siobhan; Kernohan, George.

In: Journal of Mental Health, Vol. 23, No. 5, 01.10.2014, p. 236-240.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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N2 - Background: The family has a primary role in caring for family members who are suicidal and in the prevention of future suicide. However, the impact that suicidal behaviour has on these family members is poorly understood. Aim: To explore the lived experiences of participants who cared for suicidal family members.Method: Eighteen participants were interviewed using a short topic guide. Responses were digitally recorded and transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis.Results: One overarching theme: 'Hard work for the whole family' and four sub themes: i) Family burden, ii) competing pressures, iii) secrecy and shame and iv) helplessness and guilt. Conclusions: Caring for a suicidal family member may be euphemistically summarised as ‘hard work’ that impacts heavily on the day to day tasks of other family members. Participants spent much time worrying and ruminating about the risk of suicide in their family member. Mental health care professionals ought to acknowledge and address the impact that suicidal behaviour has on family carers.

AB - Background: The family has a primary role in caring for family members who are suicidal and in the prevention of future suicide. However, the impact that suicidal behaviour has on these family members is poorly understood. Aim: To explore the lived experiences of participants who cared for suicidal family members.Method: Eighteen participants were interviewed using a short topic guide. Responses were digitally recorded and transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis.Results: One overarching theme: 'Hard work for the whole family' and four sub themes: i) Family burden, ii) competing pressures, iii) secrecy and shame and iv) helplessness and guilt. Conclusions: Caring for a suicidal family member may be euphemistically summarised as ‘hard work’ that impacts heavily on the day to day tasks of other family members. Participants spent much time worrying and ruminating about the risk of suicide in their family member. Mental health care professionals ought to acknowledge and address the impact that suicidal behaviour has on family carers.

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