Attitudes of midwives and maternal child health nurses towards suicide: A cross-sectional study

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Perinatal women are at risk of depression and/or suicidality. Suicide is the highest cause of indirect maternal deaths in the perinatal period. Midwives and maternal child health nurses (MCHN), as key clinicians, need to be able to detect these mental health issues. Little is known about these clinicians' attitudes to suicide. In this paper, we report on the results of a cross-sectional study of midwives' and MCHN attitudes to suicide. A convenience sample of midwives (n = 95) and MCHN (n = 86) from south–eastern Victoria, Australia, was recruited into the study. Participants completed the Attitudes to Suicide Prevention Scale. The results showed that MCHN have more positive attitudes towards suicide prevention than midwives, and younger participants have more positive attitudes to suicide prevention compared to older participants. Midwives and MCHN could benefit from continuing professional education to build their knowledge and skills in assessing suicide risk for childbearing women and their families, increasing positive attitudes, improving detection, and mental health referrals.

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