Youth suicide: The knowledge and attitudes of Australian teachers and clergy

Wendy Leane, Rosalyn Shute

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    36 Citations (Scopus)


    This is the first study of the suicide-related knowledge and attitudes of teachers and clergy in Australia. These professional groups have been identified as 'gatekeepers' who might serve as a first line of assistance for distressed young people. Such gatekeepers, along with medical and mental health professionals, have a vital role to play in the prevention of youth suicide, of which Australia has the highest rates in the world. This research confirmed that high numbers of teachers and clergy have been approached by suicidal young persons. However, their gatekeeping role may be compromised by a low level of knowledge about signs of suicide risk, which was found even among those who had taken courses in suicide or death and dying or who had personally known someone who suicided. Suicidal behavior was found to be generally regarded as unacceptable, especially by those with a high religious commitment. Further educational efforts about suicide risk identification and prevention seem to be needed for both teachers and clergy; it will be important for such education to take into account attitudinal issues and how these might affect communication with young suicidal people.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)165-173
    Number of pages9
    JournalSuicide and Life-Threatening Behavior
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


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