A suicide awareness and intervention program for health professional students
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Background: Many emergency service professionals and health professionals play important roles in the assessment and management of suicide risk but often receive inadequate mental health training in this area. A ‘Suicide Awareness and Intervention Program’ (SAIP) was developed for first year medical, paramedical and pharmacy students at the University of Tasmania, Australia. The program aimed to increase students’ knowledge and awareness about suicide-related issues, develop interpersonal skills around suicide screening and increase awareness of available support services. Methods: A 5-hour experiential SAIP was embedded within the curriculum. A pre and post evaluation of knowledge, skills and attitudes was conducted, with an open-ended follow-up survey regarding use of what was learned in the program. Results: Pre and post SAIP surveys showed significant improvement inknowledge and practical skills. Feedback from students and the counselling service indicated enduring impact of the program. Discussion: Participation in the SAIP increased knowledge, skills and attitudes related to the assessment and management of individuals at risk for suicide, and the application of this ability to students’ personal and professional lives.
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