How do group workers respond to suicidal behavior? Experiences and perceptions of suicidal female adolescents residing in secure residential youth care in the Netherlands

S. P. T. Kaijadoe, H. Klip, A. de Weerd, E. A. van Arragon, K. S. Nijhof, A. Popma, R. H. J. Scholte

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Background Adolescent suicidal behavior, including non-suicidal self-injury, is increasingly prevalent in Secure Residential Youth Care (SRYC) in the Netherlands. Group workers play a vital role in the well-being and functioning of adolescents in SRYC as they interact with adolescents on a daily basis. However, we have little understanding of how adolescents perceive group workers’ responses to suicidal behavior and we lack knowledge about the impact of these responses on adolescents and the group climate. Aim The aim of this study is to explore (a) how adolescents value group workers responses towards suicidal behavior and (b) the impact of these responses on adolescents, as well as (c) on the group climate. The results can be used to develop care-policy to improve care for suicidal adolescents in SYRC. Method Eleven suicidal female adolescents residing in SRYC were interviewed. All adolescents had previously displayed suicidal behavior, including non-suicidal self-injury. Interviews were analyzed using grounded theory. Conclusion This study presents the perceptions of suicidal female adolescents residing in SRYC about group workers’ responses on suicidal behavior. Adolescents prefer group workers who react responsive to suicidal behavior. Responsive care, trust and connectedness help adolescents disclose their suicidal thoughts. Participants criticize group workers who are non-responsive as being distant, and their relationship with these group workers lacked trust, communication, a sense of connection, or personal depth. All adolescents underline the devastating impact of involuntary seclusion, and stress the importance of being able to disclose without fear of coercive consequences. Findings indicate that non-responsive reactions contribute to an increase in suicidal distress as well as a closed group climate.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0283744
Issue number3 March
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023

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