Barriers to the Prevention of Suicide in Nursing Homes: A Qualitative Study of the Social Representations of Caregivers

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Abstract

Background: The suicide rate in older people is high. Gatekeeper training is recommended for at-risk populations in the detection and management of suicidal residents in nursing homes. Aims: This study focuses on how caregivers in nursing homes consider suicide in older people from a social perspective, and to what extent these social representations are an obstacle to the prevention of suicide. Method: This study is both observational and qualitative, and is based on semi-directed one-to-one interviews with caregivers. Results: We met with 18 caregivers from three nursing homes in 2015. We show that the social representations of caregivers working in nursing homes are essentially identical to those of the general population and those found in other studies on paramedics. Suicide is seen as an expression of autonomy, a response to the suffering associated with aging and the living conditions imposed on older people in our society, particularly in nursing homes. Limitations: Our study highlights the problems inherent to the position of caregiver, in which we can observe a conflict between professional missions and personal ideology. Conclusion: This study confirms the need to continue training on suicide prevention in nursing homes.

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