Characteristics of and barriers to suicidology training in undergraduate and clinically-oriented graduate-level psychology programs

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Suicidology Online






Suicide prevention efforts are focused at many levels, including ensuring competence among mental health professionals and training gatekeepers to recognize warning signs. Yet previous research has found that only approximately half of psychology trainees receive suicidology training and it is not clear how prevalent suicidology courses for undergraduates, potentially important gatekeepers on college campuses, are. The twofold aim of this study was to identify the prevalence of suicidology courses in psychology undergraduate programs, and to update the literature regarding the characteristics of suicidology training in clinically-oriented graduate psychology programs. Psychology faculty members (N = 177) responded to an email request to participate in an online study. At the undergraduate level, approximately 3% of responding institutions offered suicidology courses. At the graduate level, a majority of responding programs offered training in the assessment and treatment of suicidal clients; training was primarily incorporated into existing courses and practica, and few offered suicidology courses or workshops. Approximately 4% of clinically-oriented graduate psychology programs offered no suicidology training. Beliefs about offering suicidology training were generally positive, but a number of barriers were noted, such as lack of resources and knowledge about suicidology. Responses suggest a recent shift toward offering more suicidology training in psychology graduate programs, though additional work is needed to ensure that training is adequate and all psychologists are competent in this area. Efforts are also required to address barriers to offering suicidology training at the graduate and undergraduate levels.