Strategies to stay alive: Adaptive toolboxes for living well with suicidal behavior

Journal article


Scarth, B., Bering, J., Marsh, I., Santiago-Irizarry, V. and Andriessen, K. 2021. Strategies to stay alive: Adaptive toolboxes for living well with suicidal behavior. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 18 (15), p. 8013. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18158013
AuthorsScarth, B., Bering, J., Marsh, I., Santiago-Irizarry, V. and Andriessen, K.
Abstract

Suicidal behavior constitutes a major global problem. Qualitative research utilizing the first-hand experiences of those who have survived attempts to take their own lives can offer much in the way of understanding how to live well despite ongoing suicidal behavior. Given that suicidal intentions and behaviors occur within the person’s subjective construal, the solutions to living—and preferably living well—despite such inclinations must also be subjective and adaptive. The aim of this study was therefore to understand how individuals live with different aspects of their suicidal behavior and their use of effective strategies to protect themselves from future attempts. Thematic analysis of semi-structured, qualitative interviews with 17 participants with lived experience of suicidal behavior from the USA yielded two main themes: (i) the ‘dynamic relationship with suicidal behavior: living with, and through’, and (ii) ‘the toolbox’. Each of these themes had four subthemes. Participants in this study offered important insights into what helped them not just survive ongoing suicidal behavior, but how they created unique toolboxes to continue living, and to live well. These toolboxes contained personalized solutions to dealing with recurring threats to their subjective wellbeing and included diverse solutions from spirituality, pets, peer-support, participating in the arts, through to traditional therapeutic supports. Some participants also discussed the importance of broader social policy and societal changes that help them live. The findings highlight crucial implications for suicide prevention efforts, especially in terms of encouraging collaborations with the lived experience community and furthering a strengths-based approach to mitigating suicidal behaviors. We encourage the clinical community to work in partnership with service-users to enable them to generate effective solutions to living—and living well—through suicidal behavior.

KeywordsSuicidal behaviour; Living well
Year2021
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Journal citation18 (15), p. 8013
PublisherMDPI
ISSN1660-4601
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18158013
Official URLhttps://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/15/8013
Publication dates
Online29 Jul 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted26 Jul 2021
Deposited06 Sep 2021
Publisher's version
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File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/8y52y/strategies-to-stay-alive-adaptive-toolboxes-for-living-well-with-suicidal-behavior

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