Mental health care providers' suggestions for suicide prevention among people with substance use disorders in South Africa : a qualitative study

Goldstone, Daniel ; Bantjes, Jason ; Dannatt, Lisa (2018-12-07)

CITATION: Goldstone, D., Bantjes, J. & Dannatt, L. 2018. Mental health care providers' suggestions for suicide prevention among people with substance use disorders in South Africa : a qualitative study. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 13:47, doi:10.1186/s13011-018-0185-y.

The original publication is available at https://substanceabusepolicy.biomedcentral.com

Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.

Article

Background: People with substance use disorders (PWSUDs) are a clearly delineated group at high risk for suicidal behaviour. Expert consensus is that suicide prevention strategies should be culturally sensitive and specific to particular populations and socio-cultural and economic contexts. The aim of this study was to explore mental health care providers' context- and population-specific suggestions for suicide prevention when providing services for PWSUDs in the Western Cape, South Africa. Methods: Qualitative data were collected via in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 18 mental health care providers providing services to PWSUDs in the public and private health care sectors of the Western Cape, South Africa. Data were analysed inductively using thematic analysis. Results: Participants highlighted the importance of providing effective mental health care, transforming the mental health care system, community interventions, and early intervention, in order to prevent suicide amongst PWSUDs. Many of their suggestions reflected basic principles of effective mental health care provision. However, participants also suggested further training in suicide prevention for mental health care providers, optimising the use of existing health care resources, expanding service provision for suicidal PWSUDs, improving policies and regulations for the treatment of substance use disorders, provision of integrated health care, and focusing on early intervention to prevent suicide. Conclusions: Training mental health care providers in suicide prevention must be augmented by addressing systemic problems in the provision of mental health care and contextual problems that make suicide prevention challenging. Many of the suggestions offered by these participants depart from individualist, biomedical approaches to suicide prevention to include a more contextual view of suicide prevention. A re-thinking of traditional biomedical approaches to suicide prevention may be warranted in order to reduce suicide among PWSUDs.

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