One of the most serious groups of crisis issues is represented by suicides. Dealing with patients prone to suicide requires much preparation and attention since these individuals suffer from mental problems and need support to cope with their negative thoughts. Such approaches as psychological first aid (PFA), Roberts’ Seven-Stage Crisis Intervention Model (R-SSCIM), and critical incident stress management (CISM) can be used by professionals to help suicidal clients. The paper will present a brief literature review and a comparison of the mentioned models and make recommendations for further research.
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There is a variety of crisis intervention approaches helping social workers to promote their clients’ psychological recovery. R-SSCIM was introduced in 2005, and this method involves planning a detailed assessment of danger, arranging social contact, singling out the major problems, stimulating the exploration of the client’s emotions and feelings, scrutinizing the alternatives, preparing the action plan, and arranging follow-up sessions (Slatkin, 2015).
A thorough literature search allows concluding that this approach has not gained much popularity with social workers since the only scholarly article containing the detailed analysis of this model was written in 2005 by its author (Roberts, 2005). Still, it seems viable to employ the set of stages outlined in R-SSCIM for suicidal patients.
The implementation of the CISM and PFA has received more attention from researchers. The article by McCabe et al. (2014) discusses PFA and provides an overview of this approach. The authors note that PFA is a productive way of mitigating crises that contains the following domains: initial contact with the client, triage and brief assessment, intervention, advocacy, and self-care (McCabe et al., 2014). The difference between PFA and R-SSCIM is that the latter is aimed at a brief period while the former presupposes stable cooperation with the client. Since suicide is a very serious crisis, it seems that PFA is more reasonable to employ than R-SSCIM.
Another model used in work with suicidal clients is the CISM. In the study by Finney, Buser, Schwartz, Archibald, and Swanson (2015), the CISM is defined as a brief psychological help promoting clients’ adaptation to the crisis. Finney et al. (2015) remark that based on this model, it is possible to develop a comprehensive program aimed at suicide prevention. The project involves three stages: awareness, prevention, and purpose (Finney et al., 2015).
The model has been launched for firefighters’ department with the alarmingly increasing suicide rate. The phase of awareness presupposes collecting input from the individuals involved. The stage of prevention includes educating clients about suicide. The final step, purpose, is aimed at instructing people in differentiating between “problems” and “crises” and teaching them how to manage crisis situations (Finney et al., 2015, p. 3). The successful implementation of all three phases is expected to raise the clients’ awareness of suicide prevention.
The review of literature allows concluding that the most suitable model of suicide interventions is the CISM. However, the other two approaches also have positive features, such as the prompt reaction to the problem and patient advocacy. Further research should focus on the implementation of these models in practice and, what is more important, on comparing all three approaches in one study. Preventing suicidal behavior is one of the most important aspects and aims of crisis managers’ work. It is crucial to gain the highest level of awareness among individuals and minimize the incidence of this negative issue.
Finney, E. J., Buser, S. J., Schwartz, J., Archibald, L., & Swanson, R. (2015). Suicide prevention in fire service: The Houston Fire Department (HFD) model. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 21, 1-4.
McCabe, O. L., Everly, G. S., Brown, L. M., Wendelboe, A. M., Abd Hamid, N. H., Tallchief, V. L., & Links, J. M. (2014). Psychological first aid: A consensus-derived, empirically supported, competency-based training model. American Journal of Public Health, 104(4), 621-628.
Roberts, A. R., & Ottens, A. J. (2005). The seven-stage crisis intervention model: A road map to goal attainment, problem solving, and crisis resolution. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 5(4), 329-339.
Slatkin, A. (2015). Crisis negotiation for law enforcement, corrections, and emergency services. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas.