Title

Age Appropriate "No-Suicide" Agreements: Professionals' Ratings of Appropriateness and Effectiveness

Date of Award

1996

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Lillian M. Range

Advisor Department

Psychology

Abstract

In the present study, a random sample of non-student members of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Sections of Clinical Child Psychology (Division 12, Section 1), Pediatric Psychology (Division 12, Section 5), all non-student members of APA who listed 521-Clinical-Child-Psychology as a major field and all non-student members who listed 070107-Adolescent-Therapy, 234000-Child-and-Pediatric-Psychology, and 070206-Child-Therapy as "Psychological Specialty Areas," were asked to read one of six vignettes describing an interaction between a therapist and a suicidal youth in which the therapist used a "no-suicide" agreement. These six vignettes were also paired with one of three "no-suicide" agreements thus creating 18 treatments. The psychologists were asked to complete a questionnaire in which they rated the appropriateness and effectiveness of the intervention. Factors believed to influence appropriateness and effectiveness were examined utilizing a 3 x 3 x 2 (reading level of the agreement x age of client x level of academic performance of the client) factorial design. In the present study, professional psychologists indicated that they were mildly to moderately in favor of written "no-suicide" agreements regardless of a child's age, academic ability or the reading level of the agreement. However, there were some variations in their positive attitudes. They were slightly more positive about "no-suicide" agreements for older children rather than 6-year-olds. They were mildly supportive of their use with 6-year-olds. They were also more positive about "no-suicide" agreements for youth who have no history of academic problems than for youth who have a history of academic problems. The reading level of the "no-suicide" agreement made no difference in their ratings of appropriateness and effectiveness. This area of research is so new that everything should be taken with a note of caution. Clinicians in this study were mildly to moderately supportive--even if the child could not read the agreement. The process of getting the agreement may be the most important thing. In the case of "no-suicide" agreements the process may be far more important than the specifics.