The unmet support needs of family members caring for a suicidal person

Columba McLaughlin, Iain McGowan, George Kernohan, Siobhan O'Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
426 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The prevention of suicide is a key aim for health care authorities and society in general and family members have a principal role in caring for suicidal people. However, the support needs of these essential family carers are relatively unknown.Aim: To explore the support needs of family members of suicidal people.Method: Eighteen participants were interviewed using a short topic guide. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis and confirmed by discussion.Findings: Family members of suicidal people have unmet needs (this was the main theme). Four sub-themes emerged: having practical support, respite and advice; feeling acknowledged and included; having someone to turn-to; and consistency of support.Conclusions: Family members are perceived to have an important role in suicide prevention; however some carers experience a lack of support which impinges on their ability to undertake this role. Family members need be included in care and require support from healthcare staff.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Early online date11 Dec 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

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  • Carer support needs
  • family support needs
  • mental health
  • suicidal behaviour
  • suicide


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