Suicide among older people: Gerontological social worker attitudes
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This study examined the attitudes of gerontological social workers towards suicide among older people and factors influencing those attitudes. More specifically, the study explored the relationship between certain demographic characteristics and eight discrete "clinical" attitudes associated with the Suicide Opinion Questionnaire (SOQ) (Domino, Westlake, & Gibson, 1982). These attitudes are: (1) aggression or anger, (2) suicide threats are merely a "cry for help," (3) suicide is impulsive, (4) suicide reflects a mental illness, (5) suicide is morally bad, (6) suicide is normal behavior, and (7) suicide is related to religion, and (8) suicide is a right.;The study is cross-sectional and quantitative, and is descriptive and explanatory (also referred to as "correlational"). The study sample consisted of professional social workers who are members of the National Association of Social Workers and who listed "aging" as their primary area of practice. Four hundred and forty two respondents returned a self-administered survey. The data were analyzed by the use of descriptive and bivariate statistics.;Significant findings reveal that respondents' attitudes are influenced by education level, gender, geographic region, race, and religiosity.;Respondents with MSW degrees were more likely to view suicide as a result of a mental illness than their colleagues with BSW degrees. Male respondents were more likely than female respondents to agree that suicide is (1) related to "anger," (2) is a "cry for help" and "not real," (3) is "normal behavior," and (4) is a "right." White/Caucasian respondents were more likely to view suicide as a right in comparison to all other races and ethnicities. Non-white respondents were more likely to view suicide as "morally bad" and as a "cry for help" and "not real." Respondents in northern and mid-Atlantic states were more likely view suicide as related to an absence of religion or religious values than their colleagues in southern and western states. Similarly, respondents indicating higher levels of religiosity were more likely to view suicide as "morally bad" and that suicide is not a "right" than their counterparts indicating lower levels of religiosity.
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