Suicide first aid guidelines for Sri Lanka: A Delphi consensus study

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Background: Sri Lanka has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Gatekeeper programs aimed at specific target groups could be a promising suicide prevention strategy in the country. The aim of this study was to develop guidelines that help members of the public to provide first aid to persons in Sri Lanka who are at risk of suicide. Methods: The Delphi method was used to elicit consensus on potential helping statements to include in the guidelines. These statements describe information members of the public should have and actions they can take to help a person who is experiencing suicidal thoughts. An expert panel, comprised of mental health and suicide experts in Sri Lanka, rated each statement. The panellists were encouraged to suggest any additional action that was not included in the original questionnaire and, in particular, to include items that were culturally appropriate or gender specific. Responses to open-ended questions were used to generate new items. These items were included in the subsequent Delphi rounds. Three Delphi rounds were carried out. Statements were accepted for inclusion in the guidelines if they were endorsed (rated as essential or important) by at least 80 % of the panel. Statements endorsed by 70-79 % of the panel were re-rated in the following round. Statements with less than 70 % endorsement, or re-rated items that did not receive 80 % or higher endorsement were rejected. Results: The output from the Delphi process was a set of endorsed statements. In the first round questionnaire 473 statements were presented to the panel and 58 new items were generated from responses to the open-ended questions. Of the total 531 statements presented, 304 were endorsed. These statements were used to develop the suicide first aid guidelines for Sri Lanka. Conclusion: By engaging Sri Lankans who are experts in the field of mental health or suicide this research developed culturally appropriate guidelines for providing mental health first aid to a person at risk of suicide in Sri Lanka. The guidelines may serve as a basis for developing training for members of the public to provide mental health first aid to persons at risk of suicide as part of Sri Lanka's suicide prevention strategy.




De Silva, S. A., Colucci, E., Mendis, J., Kelly, C. M., Jorm, A. F., & Minas, H. (2016). Suicide first aid guidelines for Sri Lanka: A Delphi consensus study. International Journal of Mental Health Systems, 10(1).

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