Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Spring 2016

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Counseling, Rehabilitation and Student Development

First Advisor

Carol Klose Smith

Second Advisor

Susannah M. Wood

Abstract

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the 14-24 year age group in the United States. However, awareness and discussions regarding suicides for this age group are not widely heard or found. In addition, many practitioners are not adequately trained to assess suicide risk. School counselors are often on the front lines of identifying students at risk for emotional issues and possible suicidal ideation (ASCA, 2010). The following research questions guided this study: a) Does a school counselor's knowledge in identifying students at risk for suicide affect their willingness to conduct suicide risk assessments? b) Does a school counselor's self-efficacy in conducting a suicide risk assessment affect their willingness to carry out the assessment with a student? c) Do school counselors who graduated from CACREP institutions after 2009 report increased knowledge in identifying suicidal students than those who graduated from non-CACREP institutions or from those who graduated before 2009? d) Do school counselors who graduated from CACREP institutions after 2009 report higher self-efficacy in counseling suicidal students than those who graduated from non-CACREP institutions or those who graduated before 2009? e) In which ways, if any, do the following counselor characteristic variables: type of graduate training and institution, years of experience, number of suicide assessments conducted, and participation in crisis response team, contribute to suicide risk knowledge and self-efficacy in conducting suicide risk assessments?

This study examined the relationship between three variables (knowledge of suicide risk, self-efficacy in conducting suicide risk assessments, and willingness to carry out suicide risk assessments with students) for practicing school counselors through the use of a demographic questionnaire, the Suicide Intervention Response Inventory-II, and the Crisis Leader Efficacy in Assessing and Deciding Scale. A total of 200 high school counselors from across the United States participated in the study. All participants were anonymous. The statistical analyses were completed using the Software Program for Statistical Analysis (SPSS) using correlational matrices, hierarchical regressions, and one-way ANOVA analyses.

Results revealed 71% of school counselors from the sample were performing suicide risk assessment every month however only 50% believed their graduate training adequately prepared them to assess for suicide. Results also showed self-efficacy was directly related to the number of suicide assessments school counselors conducted each month. In addition, the school counselor's willingness to conduct assessments, membership on a crisis team, and comfort identifying and assessing suicidal students related to their self-efficacy as well. Recommendations for school counselors include: continuing professional development related to suicide, securing administrative support to perform suicide assessment, and improving crisis response teams. Recommendations for counselor educators include: providing appropriate feedback, using evidence-based teaching methods, and increasing suicide related issues into coursework. Areas for future research are also discussed.

Public Abstract

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the 14-24 year age group in the United States. Yet, awareness and discussions regarding suicides for this age group are not widely heard or found. In addition, many practitioners are not adequately trained to assess suicide risk. In order to build upon existing research, this researcher set out to examine the factors that might contribute to school counselors’ willingness to conduct suicide risk assessments with their students. Specifically, investigating a school counselor’s self-efficacy and training related to identifying and assessing a suicidal student may offer insight for future school counselors and counselor educators in improving educational opportunities in suicide prevention.

A survey including questions regarding training and current practices was completed by 200 practicing high school counselors across the country. Results revealed self-efficacy was directly related to the number of suicide assessments school counselors conducted each month. In addition, the school counselor’s willingness to conduct assessments, membership on a crisis team, and comfort identifying and assessing suicidal students related to their self-efficacy as well. Finding ways to increase counselors’ self-efficacy related to crisis intervention is important to fostering intervention efforts.

Keywords

publicabstract, School counseling, Self-efficacy, Suicide, Suicide assessment

Pages

ix, 132

Bibliography

123-132

Copyright

Copyright 2016 Laura Lynn Gallo

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